My travel stories are never complete without a touch of drama and bit (Lot?) of misadventures. In the month of August I travelled to Cambodia and it was an eventful trip or should I call drama filled trip? I got robbed on the streets on Phnom Penh, ya that’s right, robbed!!!. Its an unfortunate situation for any traveler can get into and it’s a last thing one expect to experience in an unknown city/country. Here is my ‘How I got robbed in Cambodia’ story.
I wasn’t holidaying in Phnom Penhn, Cambodia,I was there for a purpose. On 3rdday of my stay there,I decided to venture out tourist attractions of Phnom Penh. I was staying very close to river side which is very popular among tourists. I hired a Tuk-Tuk from my hotel where I was staying. Tuk-tuk driver gave me a package of 4hrs and few famous tourist destination around for 25 USD. I just said yes,without even bargaining or try to cross check around for the best deal ( #Mistake No 1). First,he rode me to Choeung Ek Genocidal center. All the stories of genocide,just drained me out emotionally and I simply wanted to get back to my room as I lost interest to see any more places. It’s not easy to visualize a place where millions of people were killed for no mistake of theirs. So I asked Tuk-Tuk driver to drop me back to my hotel room and paid him whatever I agreed to pay for the package. Later in the evening around 6pm,I decided to get out my hotel room,take a walk on riverside and have good dinner. Once again I spotted familiar Tuk-tuk guy from the morning and walked upto him to hire a ride till riverside Road. After I got into his vehicle,he started speaking to fellow tuk-tuk driver in native language and asked me to take the fellow driver’s tuktuk as his tuk-tuk got some problem. I naively took the other vehicle (# Mistake No2). It was just 5 minutes ride from my hotel to Lake Road and Tuk-tuk guy was on his mobile whole ride (maybe co-ordinating with a theif). I got down from tuk tuk and started walking on shops and restaurant side of the river. I wanted to talk to someone to vent out and called a friend. It was still not dark yet and I was telling my friend about how I felt going to the genocide center. There was a kid hackling me to give him some money and I saw a mother sleeping unconsciously and a toddler trying to breast feed himself. This scene disturbed me very much and I was narrating this to my friend over the phone.By then I crossed a small junction before resuming my walk on footpath, I saw a motor bike stopping on the main road and a man checking me out, the way he looked at me,reminded me of my hotel receptionist advice-‘be careful of your hand bag while walking on road,you may get robbed on road” my self-defense mechanism was on alert and I clutched my hand bag towards my chest . Once again resumed my talk with my friend about how I am feeling about Cambodia, we were in a deep conversation about humanity and what not that moment.
Here is the conversation
Me- “ I don’t want to come back to this country again, it’s a very heavy duty feelings, I simply can’t see people like this.”
Friend-“ look at the better side of the country’’
Me- “ I don’t want to see anything, anymore,I just want to be done with my remaining days and get back home”.
By then I got one more big junction to cross, I was actually walking towards an Indian restaurant where I had dinner earlier two nights. Restaurant was just few meters away and footpath was full so I decided to remain on main road as the restaurant was just 10 steps away. At this point I was too involved with the conversation on phone with my friend and my alert mind was also too busy in eavesdropping to my conversation with my friend.
My friend- “What is it bothering you? Situation of people or the country?
Me;”I don’t know, its people or the country but I am too disturbed mentally after seeing genocide center and kids on road begging…I still don’t understand, its people or the country…”
My conversation with my friend was cut in middle and I just screamed out of pain on my left arm. Then I realized, someone just snatched my hand bag and pain is because my bag’s handle, just broke through my arms. Like anybody would do, I screamed loudly and even try running behind the bike. There were two men on bike, one rider and another one snatcher. Snatcher was laughing loudly, seeing me running behind him and he also blew me a flying kiss.
That’s it, I was traumatized and a waiter from Indian restaurant witnessed entire scene, he ran inside and got his owner to the scene. Owner was a nice man, took me inside the restaurant, and helped me to calm myself. Luckily I had my iphone in hand, I called my bank and blocked all my cards. Restaurant owner told me, not to panic about credit cards, as those robbers are not educated enough to use them, I didnt take his advice and did what I had to. To my surprise, I forgot to block one of my card and I realised about it after reaching my home country, luckily my card was’nt misused and that card wasnt even chip protected (So the restaurant owner was right). I had one more phone in my hand bag and little cash. More than money, I lost my driving license, and other important cards, my house and car keys ( I already got my driving license and other cards done but its pain getting everything done all over again) Luckily I had kept my passport in hotel’s safe, if not I would have got into another trouble of going to Indian embassy in Cambodia to arrange my way back to my home.
After getting robbed and calming myself,once again called my friend narrated the whole story and this time it was my friend’s turn to say-‘I don’t know its people or the country….”
Anyway, this one bitter experience didn’t ruin my entire trip. I still got lots of stories to tell about Cambodia. I will write about it very soon. For some reason I feel, tuk-tuk guys were involved in making me a prey to a robber. After this, I came across quite a few situations where a driver insisted me to take fellow driver’s tuk-tuk as his vehicle has problem after getting into it, I just walked away from the scene and hired a different tuk-tuk from another place.