Ho Chi Minh airport drama
I am flying to Cambodia today. It is an international flight to Siem Reap so I arrive early hoping to take advantage of the lounge at the airport. Unfortunately the window to check into the flight doesn’t open until 2 hours before the flight leaves. For the airline Cambodia Angkor Air it opens even later than that. Also there is a tour group that has arrived before me and they have already made the check in line quite long. I hope the line moves swiftly when it opens; but it doesn’t. I notice every passenger is at the check in window for an excessive amount of time. People are arguing with the customer rep; suitcases are being opened and items are being shuffled around. Line is moving at a snail’s pace. I am annoyed at my fellow passengers but my anger is misplaced. It is the airline. I realized Cambodia Angkor Air is a discount airline when booking my ticket. I knew there are additional charges for luggage when I booked my ticket but I believed I purchased a ticket at a price that included luggage. Unfortunately my ticket nor my receipt reflected this fact. I had no proof that I already paid for my luggage. When it is my turn at the counter the agent tells me my flight price only included 7 kg of luggage. Who the hell only has 7 kg of luggage for an international flight???? I had no proof that I already paid so there is a charge of $65 USD for luggage at check in. Highway robbery but this kind of crap is part of traveling right? I am annoyed as I take out my credit card. “No, we don’t take credit card. We take cash only and in US dollars.” I am livid at this point. I had spent down most the US dollars I did have and have not had a chance to replenish my cash yet. Am I going to miss my flight to Cambodia because I don’t have enough cash? It is getting dangerously closer to flight time as a ruffle through my things for cash. I find $60 USD hidden in my backpack and exclaim it is all I got and I get a a disappointing look from the agent. Finally I find a 5 euro I had leftover from Europe. They happily take the 5 euro to complete my fee. I am visibly angry at the airline, as are most others in line. I have never dealt with such a corrupt airline in my life. I check my bag and hurry to the gate. There are still so many people behind me in line that probably still have to deal with this nonsense.
Once on the flight it is uneventful and pretty typical for a discount airline.
Arrival in Siem Reap
I arrive in Siem Reap. The airport is small. I am able to go through customs pretty quickly since I booked my visa in advance. I exit outside. I struggle to find an ATM. I wander around and around and can’t find one. I discover the only ATM are by the departure terminal. I am hot and sweaty pulling my luggage around. American dollars are widely accepted in Siem Reap but only crisp clean and nice dollars. When you receive change upon making purchases you need to make sure that someone doesn’t try to pawn off a crumbly, ripped bill because you will be stuck with it (at least until you return to the USA). Luckily the ATM distribute american dollars and Cambodian Riel. Most places prefer USD.
I wait forever for my tuk tuk and it never comes. After a few failed attempts I finally get a hold of my hotel. It is miscommunication. They finally send someone. He is really nice. I find out he is my assigned driver for my stay. When I book tours from hotel he is there to take me around.
It has been a long day and I am hot and sweaty. I am happy to check into my room but I soon learn how annoying the steps are to my room. I am on the third floor and it is a climb up steep steps to get to my room. I am generally in good health so I shouldn’t complain. Less mobile individuals would not be able to stay here. The climb would be too challenging.
My room is satisfactory. It seems safe and there is working AC. The two disadvantages are the little ants that destroyed my coconut candy I purchased in Vietnam and the two mating geckos that live in my room. If you haven’t heard a gecko the sound is like a loud annoying bird. It took me a couple nights to figure out what was going on. I would hear a loud sound randomly in the night. I thought there was some stupid bird living outside my window. I eventually discovered it is the jerk geckos. I would wake up periodically in the night when they decided to talk. I could hear dogs and heritage music outside but nothing compares to the noise of the geckos.
Tomorrow I start my first day tour of the iconic temples of Angkor. I scheduled the Big Circuit tour with a sunset so luckily I don’t have to wake up too early tomorrow.