January 26, 2016

WATCH OUT FOR SCAMS IN THE BORDER THAILAND - CAMBODIA


I wish my first blog post about Cambodia was something incredibly beautiful but I have to tell you about my story so you don't pass thru the same situation. 

I booked my bus ticket from Bangkok to Siem Reap in one of those zillions agencies in Khao San Road for 8 dollars, a pretty good deal. I was by myself and nothing to fear, I was booking thru a physical agency and all my friends told me how easy is to get a cambodian visa in the border for 30 bucks. (The agency I booked my ticket is called: Lampoo Travel & Tours; Address: 42 Viengtai Hotel Rambuttri Rd. Banglumpoo Bangkok 10200)

I had to wake up really early to catch the mini van ride. It was a smooth and easy trip with other backpacker travelers from Europe and USA. When we arrived in the border of Poi Pet there was these guys waiting for us. They told us that we were going with them to Siem Reap but first we needed to make the visa. I was innocent enough to think they were there to help us, it was part of the agency ticket deal. They had this big room with tables and chairs so we could sit and fill up all forms. When I paid them my 30 dollars they said it was 1600 baht, which is 44 dollars. I thought that was weird. I looked around and everyone was paying them this amount. I tried to talk with the group and they said they paid this amount in the agency! When I confronted the guys about the higher price they made up a story about visa online is cheaper but there was 44 dollars. Not that 14 dollars more is huge but I started feeling something was wrong. 

I thought about doing my visa by myself and pay what was fair. If there's something I can't handle is injustice and being ripped of. But then this feeling of fear came across and questions like: "What if these guys kidnap me? What if they rob me? And then, how I'm gonna find transportation to Siem Reap? Hmmm maybe with these guys we get the visa faster?" With this last question I made up my decision and went the easy way: paid whatever they asked for. 

We were in Cambodian border already and waiting to the bus to go to the bus station. A girl from Denmark aka blond with blue eyes started to stress out. She was super nervous that one of the guys was trying to put her in another bus. First he wanted her to go in a bus before us and now because she didn't go, she had to go to the next bus. What?! She was terrified and started crying a lot. I said out loud she would come with us. I could feel her fear and would never leave her alone. Some girls in the group also reacted. The guy was laughing inside. I held her hand and we caught the same bus. The girl was crying rivers saying that he tried many times to be alone with her

We finally arrived in the bus station but this story is not over yet. One of the guys arrived saying that the bus will take one hour and an half. It was 3 pm already. But, of course, for only 5 dollars we could go by mini van now. I couldn't believe! These assholes wanted more money from us. Half of the group said yes and other half said no. Slowly slowly I figured out everyone gave up and all of them would go with the mini van. I got really nervous and said "You guys already stole me 14 bucks and want more money??!! I want to go in the mini van free!" They answered: "See, it's not fair with the rest of the group, they already paid". I had no choice, I didn't want to cooperate more with this scammers so I went to have a sit and wait for the bus. It's not about the money, it's about respect, values, they think they can do whatever with tourists? NO! We have to react, silence is the same as consenting. 

Not even one minute after one guy came and talked really softly saying that they will ask the group if it's ok going for free. They said yes. I thank everyone. In this two hours ride I reflected on life and all those times we are oppressed by people who make us feel bad and with fear. I have to be better than that and do something, stand up for our rights! Not that I will destroy with scams and save the World but at least I did my part and told everyone what is going on. Don't ever cooperate with these guys, they will always work on this and rob us. Yes, this is robbing because they never told me that they would charge a bit more because they were "helping".

A good solution: Instead of entering Cambodia via Poi Pet Border, cross other border called Trat close to Koh Chang (Thailand).

Well, there's always a first time. After 8 years of traveling I had to be in a scam one day right? And I thank all gods and goddesses that it was an happy ending and wasn't that big deal. But happened. It's part of my life experience now. By the way, I'm loving Cambodia, these people are soooo smiley and friendly. I guess I'm going to be very happy here. Stay tuned for the next Cambodia posts! 

Much love xx
Marta 

January 20, 2016

LET'S GO TO CAMBODIA!


Hey guys!! 
You might be wondering what's going on, the free bird girl doesn't travel anymore? Nahhh. Traveling is my passion, how is supposed to live without passion? 
My trip to Asia - my fave continent - is around the corner and as always, I leave everything for the last day, including the plan. Ok, we all know by now I simply don't plan, I read some blog posts from travelers fellows and write down some tips. I don't really like to read all information because my expectations will be high and also, I love to be surprised in all places I visit :)

January 12, 2016

BEAUTIFUL SOULS WHO INSPIRE ME - FILIPE VENTURA




Long time, no see this Series I enjoy so much. Today I bring you a friend of mine from Portugal, those rare portuguese who save all money to travel and oh Filipe travels A LOT for a person who works full time and has 21 days vacation per year. 
This is a different post because instead of typing Filipe's story I scanned page to page and you can read from his hand writing :) It was Filipe's idea and I had to agree... this year I want to focus on writing letters, postcards and my journal. 

January 8, 2016

PLANS FOR 2016


Right after reviewing our last year it's time to make our goals list for the new year. For some reason I'm taking way too long to put together my goals for 2016 (Check 2014 and 2015 goals) Not that I have a bunch of dreams, hopes and plans but calling them goals is maybe too much. So this year I decided to make plans instead for 2016 and 2017 :) I'm doing this to myself because every year, even though I make a good job accomplishing my personal goals, I always leave some of them for next year(s). Also I figured out some of my goals aren't for that certain year but life goals, a process let's say. 

This year I wrote my plans in my agenda, as you can see in the image above. This way I can read them time to time and make sure I focus on my happiness.

December 28, 2015

2015 IN REVIEW


We are in that time of the year when we look back and remember all that happened during the year. I know a bunch of people on my age - thirties - say that now they feel time flying big time. I don't feel the same way. I have done so much this year that I feel it was slow. Yeah guys, traveling gives you this feeling because you are always learning new things, making new friends, exploring new places. 
Grab a nice hot tea or coffee, a blanket, popcorn or cookies and get ready, this post is gonna be large and exciting :)

December 25, 2015

MAGICAL CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN LISBON



Christmas is not a big deal for me but I'm still fascinated by the smell, lights, smiles and joy. I don't really care for gift swapping because I don't like the feeling of obligation, I dislike spend a whole afternoon looking por possible gifts for my friends and family. It's too much pressure! When I'm inspired I make some gifts but I need time and motivation. I still give my beloved ones presents but I do it during the year, when I come back from a trip or simply when I'm walking and I find something I know that person will love and need. I probably should buy the gift and wait for Christmas but I can't wait to see the person reaction :D Maybe next year I'll do it differently and just give my gifts away in Christmas time.