An Unlucky Day in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Rob Hourmont

Today's travel experience didn't go so well.

Today’s article was going to be about my positive experiences so far in Phnom Penh and how rugged yet cool it is.

Sadly, my luck turned, and I got robbed!

Yep, right outside a bank where I’d withdrawn cash to pay for the apartment I just moved into. It was noon, and all appeared to be calm and orderly.

It wasn’t my cash or wallet that got lifted; instead, my precious phone which is a major lifeline for anyone, especially when traveling.

You know how it is; you’ve got everything on your phone these days; passwords, banking information, personal information, and of course, your vital contact and client base.

How did I allow this to happen?

It was a sloppy mistake as I was in a rush and not thinking about all the possible scams that could happen in any big city, especially in Cambodia.

I let my guard down.

Job done, cash in hand, I ordered an online tuk-tuk to take me back to the apartment. I walked to the bank, but it was so hot I wanted a ride back.

The driver was to arrive in a minute. I’m standing by the doorway, away from the road in the shade — in safety. As the vehicle neared, I stepped down to the sidewalk, looking for my ride’s number plate while looking at my phone to verify it.

I’m looking up, and down, and up again. It didn’t take 3 seconds, and boom, two guys on a motorbike came from the other side (where I wasn’t looking) and snatched the brand new iPhone out of my hands, and turned left down a side street.

I immediately started the chase; they got blocked by an oncoming bike, swerved, I managed to grab a shirt, but not with enough grip, and they took off.

I screamed in agony for help and someone to stop or chase them. Everyone just stared and was frozen.

Realization set in; the phone was gone.

There I stood in the middle of the street screaming with my hands on my head, wanting to cry.

I couldn’t grasp this was happening to me. I’m so careful usually and never walk around with my phone out.

Panic set in, and I ran back to my hotel, trying to calm myself and think about what I must do next to protect my information.

Thankfully during the run back, I calmed down and started to think rationally again.

I grabbed my laptop, called my bank, and deactivated my mobile banking.

I was still in shock and having a hard time thinking straight. I then figured out the thieves wouldn’t get access to my data as the screen would be long-locked when they tried to open the phone.

I managed to find my old iPhone, charged it, and gained access to my information that way and via my laptop.

It could have been worse; they could have crowbarred me during the attack causing severe injury, which is what happened to me in Barcelona 10 years ago.

It was a nasty shock and a big wake-up call. You must be far more vigilant than you think you are already being.

I’m not going to condemn Cambodia and Phnom Penh because this happened, as I know it happens everywhere, and worse.

I hope to publish a more joyful article tomorrow.

Rob

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