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24 October 2011 / leggypeggy

Were you born in a barn?

My bed is the one with the mosquito net down.

Poor John got into trouble this morning with the owner of our hostel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Let me set the scene—the whole scene.

We’ve stayed in a lot of very basic accommodation on this trip, and this backpackers’ place certainly lived up to that description. The foyer/ground floor was long and narrow with a few disintegrating cane tables and chairs. All other furniture was wobbly, with bricks under some legs to level out surfaces. The paint was peeling. Six fans, with wires running all over the place, provided a bit of air movement. About 10 thin mattresses, stacked on their sides, were toward the back of the room. The women’s toilet was not working, so we had to use the men’s. A kitchen was just beyond the toilets.

Our group was allocated three rooms in two buildings, so we had six to a room. The beds were foam mattresses on the floor or in a small frame with bamboo slats instead of springs. My two thin mattresses weren’t enough to protect me from an extra bamboo slat that ran head to toe down the middle of my mattress support. Each bed came with its own mosquito net, an electric fan and a towel (mine smelt very sour).

Our floor had three rooms and only one bathroom (with the cold-water-only shower positioned almost over the toilet). Our room had no door, but we were given keys to small metal lockers on the floor below, so we could lock away our valuables. Laundry cost $1 a kilo (great bargain) and you weighed it on a big scale on the reception counter.

We stayed three nights and I got a kick out of the way that every time a newcomer arrived, the owner explained that the air conditioning had just been sent out to be repaired. I thought air-con could be fixed on site. 🙂

Now none of this basic-ness really concerned us. On a budget trip, you get what you get. I was thrilled to have my own mosquito net and fan. The only thing that made me crazy was the fact there was no where to hang your clothes while you had a shower. That was a first.

My not-so-springy mattress support. I think mine may have been put on upside down.

So leading up to this morning.

For the last two days, Poor John has been about the first person to appear in the foyer—about 5:45. Both days he ordered a cup of coffee from a young woman. I have to give the place credit for making decent coffee. This morning most of our group gathered in our building because our bus to Angkor Wat was leaving early. As usual Poor John was first on the scene. The young woman wasn’t around so he popped into the kitchen and ordered coffee and toast.

About 15 minutes later the owner, who by this time had started taking breakfast orders, arrived at our table and gruffly asked Poor John if he was the one who had placed an order ‘IN THE KITCHEN?’ Well yes, he had. ‘Now why in the world would you do that? You wouldn’t do something like that in a hotel!’

And that’s when I nearly choked. In a hotel?! Since when did this fellow think this place was even remotely like a hotel?

Poor John resisted being a smart ass, so didn’t tell the fellow that in the two hotels we’d stayed in most recently, he’d had to go to the kitchen to order breakfast, because it was the only way to get anyone’s attention.


Leave a Comment
  1. Louise M Oliver / Oct 24 2011 6:59 am

    Oh Peggy! It sounds like this fellow has a really exaggerated view of the accommodation he’s providing. From your description it sounds like a very down-market interpretation of a Y and he obviously thinks it’s just a touch short of the Hyatt. Poor you and Poor John! As you said though, it least you had your own mosquito net and fan. I hope you enjoyed Angkor Wat. There’s a great deal to see there I believe.



  2. leggypeggy / Oct 24 2011 10:56 pm

    He knows it’s not the Hyatt. He is just full of BS. And he isn’t Cambodian. He’s from the Western World.


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