Monday 3rd May 2010 (Part 2)
If you have not read part 1, please click here
Monday morning at 6.30am, the alarm went off to wake us up. I woke up feeling confused and worried, but knew I had to be strong today. Somehow I managed to get the strength and remain calm. We got ourselves ready to go to the police station. The phone in our room rang around 7.15 am, whilst Paul was in the shower. I answered and the lady in the reception told me that my friend was in the reception and wanted to talk to me. I told Paul to get ready as quick as possible. I went down alone to see who it was. I thought the receptionist meant they were actually sitting in the reception, but she meant on the phone. The receptionist said that a lady had called for me. She had to call her back and she said she had hung up.
It was a woman. She couldn’t speak much English, so it was hard to understand. She said that she wanted to meet me to tell me her story about my bag! I didn’t understand what she meant. I thought maybe she was trying to say that she saw my bag get stolen, but then I thought how would she know I was staying at this hotel. I asked her if she had my bag, but she just kept saying I want you to come to my house to hear my story about your bag and how you lost it!
I asked the receptionist at the hotel to speak to her as the lady didn’t speak much English.
She explained on the phone to the receptionist, that she had my bag and wanted to give it back to me. She had found a receipt for the hotel in our bag, which is how she was able to contact us. The receipt had our room number on. I asked if she could bring it to the hotel, or the police station, but she said no, because she was too scared in case the police thought it was her that stole my bag.
She wanted us to go to her shop/house and collect it there. The receptionist took down her address and phone number and said that if I went to her home, she wanted to talk to us and tell us how she found my bag. Then the receptionist said would you give her a tip or something for finding it. I thought it was a bit strange that the receptionist was telling us to give a tip, but we didn’t really think much about it at the time, as we were just glad she had my bag and our passports!
Another guy in the hotel asked us if we had been to the police yet. When we replied no, he then told us that the best thing would be to take a taxi, with the hotels taxi driver and go to the ladys shop. We were anxious and worried about doing this, but we didn’t know what else to do!
He rang up the lady getting more details about what was left in the bag and double checked our names matched the names on the passports. He then said to us it will take you at least 30 days to get a new passport, so it is best for you to go and talk with the lady. He said my taxi driver will take you to the shop and Wait with you and bring you back. I didn’t trust this guy at all, there was just something about him, but were stuck with what else to do. We needed our passports back!
If we went with the police we were scared she wouldn’t give them back, or deny she had them, and she wouldn’t bring them to the hotel or the police station, so we felt we had no other choice.
So we went with the hotels taxi driver to the Lady’s shop. It cost us $15 for the return journey, plus for the taxi drivers waiting around.
We were driving in the taxi for about 10 minutes, when we stopped on a remote street. There was no traffic in front of us so we were wondering why we had stopped. The taxi driver made a phone call and was speaking to someone in Khmer (Cambodian). I really wish I was able to understand the language, so I could of known what he was saying! Paul then asked him if we were there. He said he tried calling the lady but she didn’t answer. I don’t know whop the person he was talking to then? I don’t know why her not answering the phone would stop us from driving, because the taxi driver already had the address of her shop. I started feeling unsteady about the situation.
The taxi drivers phone rang again. He spoke briefly to someone, who I believe to be the lady in the shop, as It was a woman speaking. He put the phone down and then drove on.
We passed a shop within seconds of driving. There was 1 lady and 4 men starring into the car. We thought that must be the shop. The taxi driver pulled up just passed the shop. We both got out of the car and the taxi driver followed us in.
The lady and men in the shop were really happy to see us and were smiling and waving. They welcomed us into their shop, where they had two seats waiting for us to sit on. The lady went to get my bag, and showed us the passports left in the bag and my visa cards, driving licence and a few pieces of ripped paper. She handed me the passports for a while to let me flick through them, making sure all the visas were still in there.
She then took them back off me and put them back in the bag. The lady and the son kept showing me all the things left in my bag. The son said,
I think what has happened is who ever stole it from you, just took all the valuables, then left the rest.
My Ipod Touch and a few other small things had been taken from the bag, but the important things were left. He then picked up my two visa cards, saying it’s good that they have left these for you.
I picked up my visa cards and me and Paul snapped them in half, as we had already cancelled them with the bank last night, so thy were no use anymore.
The lady and son were confused as they watched us snap them into pieces. She finally understood that they were no longer working.
She then asked me how my bag was stolen. We explained that two guys on a motorbike had pulled it off my shoulder. She then showed me the bag. The strap had snapped on it, so that’s how it must of come away from me. I had it over my neck, so I wondered how they would of got it off me, but it looks like when they pulled it, it snapped.
They then wanted to show us the back of the shop, where they had found my bag last night. There were pieces of paper from my bag on the floor, including ripped receipts. I thought it was strange that the pieces of paper were ripped.
I started to notice that we had been at the shop for nearly 15 minutes and the lady was still holding my bag. This was strange. If she wanted to return my ag, she would of handed it to me by now.
I felt really uneasy and wanted to get out as soon as possible. The lady, her son and the other 4 men took us back round to the front of the shop. They told us to sit back down. They were just smiling and looking really happy. You would think this was because they had found our bag and were able to return it to us.
Paul got his wallet out to give $20 as a tip for finding the bag. Paul emptied his wallet in the taxi, taking all his debit cards and other money out and he put them in his pocket.
He showed the lady his wallet and took out his last $20, and said
I know it’s not much, but thank you so much for returning our bag
I quickly noticed the sons face as he looked at the money Paul was offering. I knew for sure that things weren’t right and that we had to get out quickly. The lady wasn’t taking the $20, she was shaking her head. For a moment Paul thought this was just because she didn’t want any money at all, but I knew that wasn’t it at all!
I took the $20 from Paul handed it to the woman and said thank you and quickly grabbed the bag that she had clenched to her chest. I had realised but Paul told me after that just before I got hold of the bag the son had said,
No! $200 or you get nothing back
I had hold of the bag, but the lady still had hold of the strap. I asked the taxi driver to help and translate for me, but he just replied by saying,
Sit down and listen!
He also blocked the door way not letting us out.
Paul was behind me at this point. Whilst me and the lady were fighting over the bag, Paul realised we needed to get out and that there would be no reasoning. He quickly grabbed back the $20 and put his wallet safely away.
I was still trying to get the bag back at this point. She had a strong hold of the strap around her hand. Paul began pulling it with me and luckily the strap snapped off the bag, allowing me to have full hold of the bag. I transferred the bag over to Paul as he was closer to the exit. The son kept telling me it’s ok and just sit down and stay calm. I knew not to trust him and just get out. Paul waited for me to get out. The lady was still trying to get the bag back, so I pushed her down to the floor and barged past all 4 men and the taxi driver, who were all blocking the way. One of the guys was pulling onto Paul’s Tshirt not letting him get out. Paul elbowed him in the stomach, whilst I pulled Paul by the arm.
We were out, with the bag! We ran as fast as we could. I stopped in a garage asking for help, as I could see the lady and son on a motorbike behind following us. I shouldn’t of stopped, it was no use! No one spoke much English and no one was helping, just starring. The lady caught u with me on the motorbike. I had my bag in my hands, but Paul had already taken the passports out and put them in his pocket.
The lady got off the motorbike and grabbed hold of my hair. I was asking the men in the garage for help, but they just starred. Paul ran back and grabbed the ladies wrist and pushed her away. We kept running, but they were still following us on their motorbike.
We saw some police officers in the distance and thought, great they will be able to help us!
The lady raced ahead on her motorbike and spoke to the police officer. I don’t know what she said, but the police officer wouldn’t speak with me or listen. We soon realised that even the police weren’t helping, so we just continued to run, with them still chasing us on their motorbike.
We came to a big junction where the police were closing the road for someone important coming. This was to our advantage as they were no longer able to follow us on their motorbike.
We kept running as fast as we could. Once we got away, we decided to try and stop another police officer, but he just pointed to another police officer in the distance and said you need to speak to him. Other police were just laughing.We don’t know what was going on, but all we knew was there was no point asking any of the police for help!
So we just kept running. We didn’t know where we were, but we had a map so Paul managed to locate where we were, and get us back to the Asia Hotel.
It was about 10am by the time we got back to the Hotel. We walked in shaking and sweating. Our adrenaline certainly kept us going! We were just glad to be back with our passports! It was a miracle that we had them back!
We went straight up to our room. We didn’t want to talk with any of the hotel staff, as we didn’t feel we could trust them! The guy who organised the taxi for us and told us the taxi driver would come in with us and wait for us, knew what was going to happen, I’m sure!
The taxi driver was a part of it. He had tried to block us in the shop and demanded I sit down, when I tried to run away.
We locked ourselves in our hotel room and packed our bags up and got ready to check out.
Whilst we were packing the bags up, we got a phone call to our room. It was the guy from reception, who had organised the taxi for us. Paul answered and he said,
It’s ok now, you don’t have to worry, they have gone, you can come down now!
We were thinking how did he know what had happened. We hadn’t spoken to him or any other member of staff since coming back into the hotel. We didn’t trust him at all!
We finished packing our bags and made sure we had everything. We then went down to reception to check out. We had already paid for the hotel, so all we had to do was hand our key in.
The same guy who had organised our taxi, was at the reception desk. He asked Paul where we were going. As if we were going to tell him anything!
We had paid $15 for the taxi to the shop. I wanted to report what had happened and complain about the taxi driver. I told them that the taxi driver had demanded I sit down, and blocked me from getting out of the shop. They didn’t say anything. I said I want my $15 back for the taxi, and said he didn’t even bring us back anyway! The man just replied by saying,
You ran away, so he couldn’t bring you back!
Of Course I ran away. He was trying to block me in the shop!
It was no use. We just decided to leave, so we started to walk out of the hotel. As we were walking away the man shouted,
Wait! We need to check your room and make sure everything is still in the mini fridge!
After all that had happened to us and after paying for a taxi, who had demanded we sit down and don’t leave the shop, all this man cared about was if everything was still in the mini fridge!
We just walked away. We hadn’t taken anything out of the mini fridge!
We found another really nice hotel and settled into our room. We were just so happy to have our passports back. It was a struggle to get them, and was dangerous. We certainly don’t want to go through anything like that again! We were also so happy to be out of the Asia Hotel. We didn’t feel safe there at all and we didn’t trust any of the staff!
At least now we have our passports and can leave Cambodia!
Some Websites we wish we had read before!
Thanks for reading. We are both safe now and continuing our travels. We are heading back to Thailand today. We were meant to be going to Vietnam, but we don’t want to wait around in Phnom Penh for our Vietnam visas. We may go to Vietnam at a later date.
Love Paul and Ruth