Travelers, Backpackers, tourist crossing the border(viet-Cambodia) on mekong express are each charged $25 per visa, where as Cambodia land visa price is only $20. Imagine getting $5 per day per person amount to how much? Considering they are running 9 or more buses each day .
On complaining about this driver and conductor threaten you to throw out of bus or take your luggage, they even misbehave. When the country is not rich, and only a few bus company making so much money by just scamming ??? They charge $13 per person bus ticket, thy can increase the price but they should not force people to pay extra, and seeing $5 per person going into their own packet every single second . It not only mar the spirit of travelling but bring bad name in promoting scams.
The bus company owner/proprietor should do an audit and stop this malpractice as soon as possible ...
Race Discrimination in Cambodia – The Ugly Side of Mekong Express
Could you imagine race discrimination in Cambodia? You might think it could be against black people. You are wrong. It’s against Asians. Yes! Asians are subject to racial discrimination IN Cambodia, an Asian country. It happened on the famous Mekong Express Limousine Bus.
We arrived at the branch office of Mekong Express in Seam Reap on Feb 5, 2011 and wanted to buy bus tickets to Phnom Penh. We talked to a male officer. Since we mentioned that we are Chinese by race, he claimed that his grand father was also a Chinese. He told us that there were buses going to Phnom Penh at 7:30am and 8:30am every morning and there were 2 buses each time. He also told us that the price for the ticket was 11 US Dollars. We tried to bargain with him, telling him that the price of Paramount Angkor Express was only 6 Dollars. He insisted that there was only ONE price for Mekong Express ticket from Seam Reap to Phnom Penh, which was 11 Dollars. We somehow believed that we should pay for better quality. We decided to buy the tickets for the bus departure at 7:30am next morning.
There was an entry of nationality on the ticket, which is quite unusual. While I was wondering whether we needed to show him our passport, he filled in the entry with a “B” on all the tickets. Our nationalities are actually Australians and Singaporeans. (Please look at entry of Nationality on the top left corner of the figure “The ticket of Mekong Express”)
The ticket of Mekong Express
Mekong Express used vans to pickup passengers next morning. The van coming for us was very punctual. After our getting on the van, a man checked our tickets, fastened tags on our luggage and gave me the tickets for the luggage. Before long, the van stopped behind a coach. We moved to the coach, which was the 2nd phrase of picking up passengers. The lady standing near the door checked our tickets, wrote a number “17” on our tickets and told us to embark on bus No. 17 at the bus terminal. There were more whites than Asians on the coach. It’s all most full.
We arrived at the bus terminal within a few minutes. There were 2 red buses waiting for us, with the sign 17 and 18 respectively in the front. We got on the bus No.17. To our dismay, we found the TV in the front was very old. (Please look at the figure “The old TV on Bus No.17)
The old TV on bus No.17
While we were waiting, our luggage was transferred to the luggage truck underneath the bus accordingly by the staff. After a while, we realized that all the passengers got on our bus were Asians, while all the whites got on the bus No.18. “This must not be a coincidence!” I told myself. I got off bus No.17 and went to bus No.18. I looked through the door and saw a big flat screen LCD TV at around 40 inch hanging at the front of the bus.
I got back to bus No.17 and told my group about the different TV. We were all very surprised and angry. We asked passenger sitting around us and were told that they actually paid 8 dollars for the trip. We got off the bus and told the staff of Mekong Express about this unfair treatment, considering our paying the high price for the trip. We also asked why whites and Asians were arranged on different buses. They denied that there was any unfairness and race discrimination. We requested that they should let us transfer to bus No.18. They just ignore us. While we were arguing, the bus No.18 was driven away with all the whites. We had no choice, but got back on bus No.17.
During the 5 hour long journey, the only entertainment we could enjoy from was the old TV on this limousine bus. The TV screen was not only small but also blur in color. When the bus shook a bit, the pictures in the screen cram violently. We called both the branch office of Mekong Express in Seam Reap and the head office in Phnom Penh to complain about the unfair treatment. All we got were excuses. One lady, Bavy, in the head office told use that the price for foreigners was 11 Dollar. To the question of why the Whites sat in a bus with a big flat LCD TV, while Asians sat in a bus with an old and shaky TV, even when we are paying the highest price, no one gave us a reasonable explanation.
Looking back at the whole thing, we found that Mekong Express had been systematically and quietly executing a policy of racial segregation. Here is my analysis of how they execute such policy.
First, I had been to many countries and never seen a ticket for domestic transportation showing a passenger’s nationality, not even for international transportation. For example, have you ever seen a ticket for international flight showing your nationality? So the question is why Mekong Express needs such an entry on its tickets.
Secondary, The Mekong Express staff did not fill in our actual nationalities on the ticket, but instead a “B”. Why? He didn’t need to know our nationality, but our race! Obviously, we are Asians. If he had met a white guy buying ticket, he would probably fill in a “A” in the entry for nationality on the ticket. The word “Nationality” on the ticket of Mekong Express is only a mask. The actual meaning of “Nationality” here is “Race”. It’s for the purpose of racial segregation.
Thirdly, with the indication of “B” or “A” or any other characters at the entry of nationality on the tickets, all the Asians with their luggage are made sure to get on a bus with bad conditions (an old, shaky TV in our case), while all the whites with their luggage are made sure to get on a bus with good conditions (a 40 inch flat LCD TV in our case). In our case, the male staff on the picking up van decided that our luggage should go to bus No. 17 and fasten a tag on them accordingly based on the “B” on our tickets, so that the staff would transfer the luggage to the right buses. The lady standing near the door of the picking up coach told us to get on bus No.17 also based on the “B” on our tickets.
The only reasonable conclusion for all the behavior of Mekong Express is racial segregation. We were shocked by this. Mekong Express is discriminating Asians on Asian land in 21st century!
I appeal to all Asians to boycott Mekong Express. I appeal to everybody who believes that all men are born equal to spread this message to one’s friends and to fight against race discrimination.
In addition, please also boycott “C.A.T Cambodia Asia Travel Co., Ltd.” which is the name of the company on the Mekong Express tickets.