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Saturday, May 21, 2005

From my South East Asia travel diary

August 21, 2003- Siem Reap, Cambodia

In contrast to my arrival in Phnom Penh, before arriving in Siem Reap, I had practically overbooked myself. I was going to be in Siem Reap for three days, so I felt that it was absolutely essential that I immediately book a room at a guesthouse and a guide to show me around the ancient temples and ruins of Angkor Wat. One guide in particular, “J” had been highly recommended to me by a friend of a friend, but when I didn’t hear from him right away, I contacted another as backup. So when I left Bangkok for Phnom Penh I had already booked a room at a guesthouse and contacted not one, but two guides.

Now at the tiny airport in Siem Reap- where there wasn’t even a moveable conveyor for baggage- I feared what I was going to do, having overbooked with two guides. I had told both of them when I’d be arriving from Phnom Penh, so I was sure they’d both be at the airport or guesthouse to greet me. Although friends who had been to Angkor Wat told me not to worry if I didn’t secure a guide beforehand- competition would be fierce for my business I was told- I preferred to go with a personally recommended guide if possible.

As I stepped out of the airport, the guide, “C”, who I had contacted as a backup, introduced himself and offered me a ride to the guesthouse. I told him that I’d decided to use another guide. Finally I found the guesthouse driver. Once in the car, he wasted no time in offering his services and the services of a guide to be arranged by the guesthouse- for a tour around Angkor Wat. I politely refused him, feeling increasingly apprehensive and anxious with so many people fiercely vying for my dollars and my guard went up.

Upon arriving the guesthouse, I found the two guides “C” and “J” waiting for me. Before I could think what to say to explain, “J” explained that he was the guide for Angkor Wat, that my friend had recommended and that the other man, “C” who I had contacted as a “backup guide”, was actually just a driver and that they could work together showing me around Angkor Wat during my three day stay.

It all seemed to make sense and I was completely relieved that the situation was resolved and that I could actually employ both of them.

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