Gansta’ / Extortion nation. Running from cops. Camry. Cell Block D. Frontin’. Let’s roll, w/ a smile. All in a Cambo day.
Welcome to Cell Block D!
We’ve lined up things to get to PP (Phnom Penh) via the “Fancy Guesthouse” we are staying at there, also lined up. As always in Cambo, sort of. Directional I like to call it. Private taxi only $10 more than doing the whole shuttle/bus/thing-age and we decide we’ll do it again given the guy is hired by our hotel and etc., etc. . . . but in an insane way we are learning it is actually SAFER to travel here by bus, preferably big bus. The calc is nuts. Decide where you are going to spend your stress chips and risk chips. Optimize for the following?: road safety, personal/family/kid safety, having your clothes bags stolen/lost/robbed (never the goods, which are strapped to me and will be stolen at the point I deem more risk to fam i.e. guns/knives/gangs/etc.), hassle of getting to hotel / from hotel to transport, straight $$$, etc. The crazy thing is of course w/ the fam I would pay some crazy premium to know I was going to be picked up at where I am and dropped off at where I’m going and we will be safe and our stuff will be safe and what not — but that crazy secure option is really, really hard to find here. It’s called an airplane I think. Or a bus. But more on that to come, we are in another camobodian taxi (i.e. camry w/ a dude).
Enough foreshadowing of the shadows to come. The morning is rad. The kids and I are up at 6 if not sooner — local families at 4:45 just doing there thing and making noise enough. Amazing morning, calm. We build sand castles and I hit a beach run/walk/etc. Of course transcendental moments are not captured at all because I don’t roll w/ gear/camera/money here in most cases when I am open to attack/mugging . . . but the trip is rad and also of course a few packs of questionable dogs get spicy and suck but whatevs.
I ride the bike into town to finish the music transaction. Crazy due diligence and things seem (and are) right wrt to the music and 500MB HD. Awesome! I run a few more town errands getting water and food for the crew for the trip to PP and putting petrol in the rented bike and what not. Suddenly boom the cops are trying to flag me down a guy on foot. I pull the “I don’t see you I am headchecking an changing lanes” move and blow by him there is no way w/ $$$ jobs gear on my back I am getting levered. Let the games and race begin. Nobody is chasing. For now, cool. But he has the license plate. The rental cats have my passport. Not good. Of course they know each other.
So I race to get the bike back/my passport back before the cops can make trouble. I dont’ crash on the 10k course back through whack roads and mud/dirt and whatevs. Not gonna lie, having fun :) Adventure DNA is on full tilt.
I chill on the return zone hey it’s all good just dropping the bike right . . . many layers later, questions and calls and kooking around w/ help from my “embassy”/”godfather” (i.e. the locals I’ve deemed have the most juice and power and I’ve spent the most money with and personal connections esp leveraging kids where they flip from “I am going to hose this guy w/ kids” vs. “I love this guy w/ kids/have extra sympathy”) . . . I get my passport and sigh.
Next, final killer coffee from my fav cafe (learn/watch the grounds/brewing process), ocean and de-sand and dry as much as possible and hey our taxi is here. Smiles and goodbyes and away we go.
The first sucky part was when the guy pulls into get LPG and has no money. Wants $20. Like if we don’t drop $20 on fuel we don’t get to PP. We are in the middle of nowhere and if this guy makes trouble and kicks our crew out we are hosed. Must trust and smile and roll w/ it. Record transactions (yeah! vs. a gun) and whatever away we go. I put the $20 in the gas guys hands and watch the pump and whatever. Good times, on point. Correct your mindset my man, not that is has not been already corrected vs. some soft ass nations you have been in.
So we roll, into PP. Let the games begin. Driver indicates he has no idea where we are going. Of course, you want to take us to a place that will pay you commission Or do you really not know? You were hired by the guy who owns the place we are staying at! Amazing. Caught in a crossfire of incentives.
Chill. That is the #1 rule. We have time. Always. Give me publicity and time. I will get what is fair and right. Smiles, chilling. Calling our hotel. Insane — the owner of the hotel is telling me the taxi he hired to bring me to his hotel is “f***ing crazy”, good times. We are grinding through PP in crazy traffic, the taxi dude is trying to dump us at every hotel/guesthouse/etc. he sees (so he gets a commission?), our guy doesn’t pay commissions and we are in the middle of the double cross . . . I play dumb touron and contiually just bring up the maps I have an point and call and chat and shrug and go hawk zone on the street signs and tell the guy where to go and this is my biggest win just doing the math and logistic and figuring out where I am. Very quickly you are put into a camp of “I will take advantage of this guy/family/etc.” or “This guy knows what is up and is fair and it would be more sucky for me to grind him vs. just doing what is fair”.
Amazingly, I guess, we (I mean I) actually find the spot because PP has enough street signs and maybe its like blind squirrel finds nut I have no ideal but we find it, pay the rest of the fare (the cabbie is pissed I didn’t fall for his “pay me the full fare even though I made you pay for $20 of petrol that was supposed be included”) So yeah, it really getting old to have a smile on my face while all are attempting to jam and lever me w/ my family. I am not competing. Safety and services at fair price is awesome. The brutal thing is that the former (safety) is consistently levered at the expense of the latter (Price).
Extortion. Is what it is. Sorry, it sucks in any language and on any continent. And if you are being extorted you can’t focus on what is good and awesome around you. Sucks.
The peeps at Fancy are rad, but it sucks. Not their fault, but it’s not the right time for all of us to check into the wrong rooms that are like hospital rooms but w/ no light and feel prison style and whatever.
Again we dig deep and I think do an amazing job of getting out and seeing PP and river and food and markets (and not getting run over ourselves — at times going 3 blocks is like death frogger or something we literally have kids on our backs to go 50m stretches that are gridlocked in dangerous ways).
Rad dinner on the riverfront, some local market zone and the concepts of things like air con and ice cream blow all of our collective minds. Delicacies. Relativity.