Following a series of misfortunate events with trying to leave Shanghai on time and from the correct gate, I finally get to Phnom Penh over an hour later than I was supposed to. Tired and disoriented, we disembark and scatter like half-blind insects into the dark, hot, and humid night.
Since there is absolutely nothing open at the airport since it’s close to 1 AM, I’m glad I had the wherewithal to get cash from the ATM. Imagine my surprise when it hacks out American dollars – in large bills. I find a very willing taxi driver to take me to the address on my reservation form.
I ask him what the best way to get to Siem Reap the next day is – bus, boat, or mini van. He tells me, “Don’t be a tourist. Just fly.” Okay, then, I won’t be a tourist. Good call. I feel, though, that it’s more experiential to take a bus or boat.
He takes me there, and there’s an uncomfortable silence as I can only pay with a large bill and my taxi bill wasn’t that large. He doesn’t have much change, so we eventually agree on a slightly bigger tip than should be given so I actually get cash back and so does he.
I go in, put my bags down at reception, and I wait as the front desk takes my passport, copies it, and asks me a few times what my name is, as if I’m not sure even. Then, he tells me he doesn’t have my reservation.
Well, I have a reservation. Thus, so should he. We go a few rounds of “yes” and “no” before he calls up a sister hotel and asks if they have my reservation. To my relief, they say “yes” and that I should just go there. He puts me in a tuk-tuk and sends me a few blocks down the street to the correct hotel.
Or so I thought.
I go through the same routine here as well – passport, passport copied, handing over my reservation sheet and … “we don’t have a reservation for you.”
It is now close to 2 AM. I have to leave early for Siem Reap if I’m to make it there on time to meet my friend. I sigh dramatically. I’m exhausted. I just want a bed.
“I just want a bed,” I said to him. “I have a reservation at one of your hotels. Can’t I just have a room here? It’s only one night.”
Slowly, he agrees. He clicks at the keyboard and eventually comes back with an answer – they have a double room available for me on the first floor and will honor the reservation sheet.
At 2:30 AM, I finally get to crawl into bed, hoping that nothing else might be slithering in with me.