Indochina: The Art of Scamming

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July 10th 2011
Published: August 24th 2012
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Indochina 2011

...Janet, Martin, and Tin - this was all we could manage in 7 days. It was such a great experience!

the joy of Tuk-Tuk ridethe joy of Tuk-Tuk ridethe joy of Tuk-Tuk ride

Siem Reap, Cambodia
For us who travel, the word scam has a very special place in our hearts. For me they mostly appear in the form of taxi drivers...them who asked for ‘fixed prices’, those who post additional charges because they went through a bad traffic, them who wouldn’t use the taxi meter and end up with a $urpri$e €harge in the end, et al. I feel like a trouble magnet when it comes to them.

Well...the good news is, our Indochina Trip last year offered a bit of variety 😉


...we really didn’t had much problem here, just the usual taxi drivers and buses trying to rip us off every opportunity given. To avoid this kind of incidents, we’d usually ask hotel receptionist how much it should cost us to buy things or to commute to certain places, and then we’d ask drivers beforehand before getting on. The worst confrontation perhaps was the yelling incident Janet and Martin experienced with a taxi driver asking for too much after a short ride from Bến Thành Market to our hotel. The taxi meter was on but they’ve misinterpreted the numbers, I couldn’t really blame them – we were counting numbers with a lot of zeroes while in Vietnam. It was certainly easy to miss one of the zeroes, money count was in hundred thousandths and millions! After declining to pay, the driver refused to stop the car until Martin & Janet threatened to call the police or jump out of his moving vehicle. He eventually stopped, got half of what he was demanding for, and left my travel mates walking back to our hotel unscathed.


..the touts here were the most persistent, “One dalleeer, one dalleeer, one dalleer for everything”. Gaaaaawd it was replaying in my head, I could even hear them in my sleep "LADY ONE DALLEER, ONE DALLEER!". Nah, this isn't a scam - it's just like a song that you're already tired of hearing but someone still keeps on hitting re-peat-peat-peat-peat-peat-peat.

...of course the Tuk-Tuk drivers trying to rip us off were still around, but we’ve already gotten used to them.

...on our way to Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh, Tuk-Tuk drivers would usually say, “The palace is closed because it’s the Queen’s birthday”. This also happened a lot in Thailand. Of course it isn’t true, they usually take people to some place where they can get commission from bringing people in. It can be dangerous in some instances.


...on the way to the Grand Palace, a man probably in his mid 50’s approached us. He looked genuinely nice and spoke English well, he told us he was a High School English Teacher. He asked the usual questions, where we’re from, if it was our first time in Thailand, where we’ve been, etc. until he segued to “The palace is closed today, I can take you somewhere else nice”. He was a good talker, such a sad way to ruin the reputation of Teachers.

...more Tuk-Tuk drivers would continue to greet us with “The Grand Palace is closed to give way to the Queen’s Birthday”. We’d just sigh, shrug them off and think out loud “here we go again...”, the Queen certainly celebrates birthday a lot more often than anyone else in the world! She would definitely age quickly.

...on the way to the reclining Buddha we passed by a small flock of pigeons being fed with corn kernel. I was enamored with the flying charmers, though the scene made me want to run through and send them off flying. There were about three people throwing feeds. They noticed and offered us packed kernels and gestured ‘feed the birds’ but I instantly had a bad feeling about it so I shook my head “No, thank you”. One of the guys approached me and insisted “For good luck! For new year...for New Year!”. I continued walking on while two other people started bugging Janet and Martin as well. The guy I dismissed earlier was becoming too insistent; he caught up with me, rudely grabbed my hand and shoved the packed feeds onto my palm. I felt a sudden sense of trouble so I repeated “NO, THANKS” and walked even faster dropping the feeds on the sidewalk since he wouldn’t accept it back. Martin gave in though which cost him another yelling spree; they were demanding 50Baht for the small pack of corn kernels. They made quite a scene, Martin gave them 20Baht but they kept on shouting at us apparently not wanting less than 50. We felt pretty much harassed and got a bit scared but we moved on quick and enjoyed the rest of the day.

Scam is everywhere we embrace that fact, but our 2011 Indochina Trip was nonetheless an awesome experience. This is my little excuse of writing about it, I couldn’t write down the rest of the adventure because I’m still on a lazy writing mood. Give me another year 😉



Home Sweet first minutes back in PI

...we were back at NAIA Terminal 3 seven days later, Janet and Martin hailed a taxi for me. As I always do, I asked the driver if he was going to use the taxi meter, he replied with an unconvincing yes and drove off. I noticed though that he didn’t turn the taxi meter on and mentioned it to him, at that point he handed me the ‘menu’. This menu contains a list of destination around the metro with the equivalent ridiculous overpriced fare (almost triple the price I usually pay for). I was pissed and demanded to be dropped off instantly but he did not budge and argued instead, he argued until we were 10 meters away, I said "No, let me get off"...20 meters, he tried to reason with me saying it was a good deal, I said "No, I am not going to pay you, just let me get off"...30 meters, he tried haggling, I said "No, that’s too pricey sir stop the car and let me off"...40 meters, he was raising his voice I kept repeating "I’m not going to pay you that price, let me get off"...until we were crossing the flyover he

...walking around Phnom Penh
was pretty much going ballistic but I just kept repeating “NO...LET ME GET OFF...JUST LET ME GET OFF”. As we reached the end of the flyover he finally stopped. Since he didn’t turn the taxi meter on I just handed him 50PHP which was more than enough for the flag down rate. He crumpled the money and threw it at me, yelling, cursing, and calling me a shameless b*tch. I was shaken and totally scared of being run over, he could have easily done that. The spot was pretty much empty with only speeding cars passing by. At 5AM, it was still dark. Luckily he just cursed some more and drove off. He was one of the worse kinds...what a way to welcome me back home! But most time, it really is more fun in the Philippines.

I told you those taxi drivers hunt me 😞

Additional photos below
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Broken busBroken bus
Broken bus

Vietnam to Phnom Peh

25th August 2012

Nice to see another blog on scams...the Taxi Scam...your specialty...can be hairy sometimes!
1st September 2012

oh them taxi driver...i'm guessing i simply appear to be an easy target :)

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