Tears, Chickens, and Cambodian Taxi Drivers

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…

“I charge you only $20,” the cab driver asserted.

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?

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7 thoughts on “Tears, Chickens, and Cambodian Taxi Drivers

  1. A friend and I once had trouble in a taxi in Ghana when I lived there. When we were stopped at one point we got out fast. But it was in the iddle of the day, in other traffic, so we had other options.

    In some tricky situations in Africa and other places, you can say “it is against my religion” to do whatever, if you can work it to fit the situation. Religion is what people understand and will often accept.

    Your price haggling made me think of a post I wrote about some guys trying to get a meal (sheep) in a desert village in Mali. It’s here if you’re interested.

    http://www.lifeintheexpatlane.com/2009/11/expat-adventure-sahara-saga/

    Glad you found my blog: I enjoy yours and will subscribe.

    • Genius technique… it’s against my religion! It’s succinct and probably shuts down the issue right then and there. It’s too bad that sometimes just simple straightforwardness doesn’t work, but that’s the way of the world, right?

  2. Arriving in a country for the first time was disorienting for me. Indonesia was my first time overseas and what an experience and eye opener. Leaving the airport I was asked by a small boy if he could carry my luggage (he wasn’t much bigger than my suitcase). He wanted $20 to carry it about 30 feet. I politely declined but he was very persistent so I finally just gave him $5 and he smiled and ran off. According to my Indonesian wife that was a large sum of money for him. I’m really enjoying your blog!

    • Dear Matt,
      Sometimes walking out of the airport upon arrival is the weirdest feeling! Oh, and if it happens at night, I’m usually a little bit intimidated too. I can relate well to your airport scene!

  3. I would love to know what you said! It would definitely help me a lot.
    In Egypt, you have to beware of assertive camel ride offerers. They are so assertive, when you disagree they steer you towards where the camel is located.

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