The room is dark and the floor and walls are bare, the concrete is cracking and dirty. The elderly lady startled as we walked in. That might have been at the sight of two foreigners, or it might have been that anyone had walked in at all.
We had some trouble getting here; the moto-drivers were confused, they didn’t know of this place and they wanted to take us across town to where all the tourists go. But this is where we wanted to be, for this is a suburban Post Office and our task would surely be a simple one; we only needed stamps to send Christmas cards overseas.
Little is simple in Cambodia, though, and several visits to Cambodian post offices that didn’t have any stamps at all had prepared us to expect problems.
Recovered from the shock of having customers, the postal clerk shuffled up to the counter. That we had a fistful of letters seemed to confuse her, so she called for reinforcements and another lady of a similar vintage appeared from the shadows.
Quickly we left- sans stamps- and took a motorcycle to where all the tourists go: Phnom Penh’s Central Post Office. There we were speedily processed and the stamps were issued at a third of the original quoted price.
So why was the lady at the suburban post office charging so much? Was she was simply mistaken? That's possible but more likely is that our postal clerk had smacked her lips in anticipation upon seeing a couple of aliens and tried to gouge some extra dollars to supplement her income. We could be wrong but I don't think so, it was her beady eyes; no matter what country you are in they give people away every time.