Situation: You arrive in Siem Reap, Cambodia late at night. The Lonely Planet guide tells you to grab a taxi from the airport to your hotel and pay no more than a few dollars. But it’s past midnight and there are no taxis. Except for one. Read about our adventure with Tears, the Cambodian taxi driver…
“What about $5?” I countered. The guidebook told me it was a fair price.
“I am only taxi now. $20 for you,” he tried again.
Sean and I had just arrived in Siem Reap, the tiny bustling city next to the famous Angkor Wat Complex. At that moment, we were tired, hungry, and combative. I urged Sean away from the taxi driver so we could devise a strategy. There was no way I wanted to get ripped off our first 10 minutes in the country.
Instead of uniting, we got into our first argument of the trip. He wanted to just pay the money and be done with it. But knowing $20 was jacked up, I wasn’t giving in.
“Okay, you pay $19,” the taxi driver interrupted.
For the next 15 minutes or so, we negotiated back and forth until finally settling on $12.
Resigning ourselves, we hopped in the taxi and drove along the dark dusty roads, peering at the few homes with twinkling lights at this late hour.
“My name is Tears,” the taxi driver announced after some time,“because I crying all the time.”
Sean and I sat quiet, not knowing how to respond.
“I take you to my house, okay?” Tears said suddenly interrupting our silence.
“I have nice chickens in yard. My wife kill chickens for you.”
“Oh, thank you, but we ate dinner already,” I tried to explain.
“Very delicious chickens,” Tears insisted.
“Just the hotel please. We’re not hungry,” I reiterated.
“My wife good cook. Easy. Take no time,” Tears said.
“Thank you, but we already ate chicken on the plane,” Sean tried next.
“I don’t think so. I think you hungry. My chickens very special…”
We appreciated the hospitality, but we weren’t about to visit his house for a special meal of freshly prepared chickens.We were ready for a bath and sleep.
But Tears just wouldn’t give up. He kept insisting on those chickens, and in addition to those chickens, he offered a special price for his excellent driving services every day of our trip. Chickens and driving tours. Chickens and driving tours. Chickens and driving tours. Broken record at 1 am.
We finally managed to convince Tears to take us to our hotel.
What a start to our Cambodian trip. But oh so worth it when we finally feasted our eyes on the Angkor Wat temples over the next few days.
Cambodia Travel Tip
Arriving late at night in a new country can be very disorienting. In Cambodia, don’t assume there will be plenty of taxis to whisk you away. Honestly this surprised me as I wrongly imagined we’d have our pick. Instead, arrange ahead of time with your hotel for a car or tuk-tuk pick up.
So, how did we escape the clutches of the tenacious taxi man? Well, I have a special thing I say that works wonders when I’m feeling my most desperate and annoyed. I promise to disclose it at a later date, but in the meantime:
Have you had troubled experiences with taxi drivers abroad?