“Yeah I Rob, Yeah I Steal”
Cambodia is a mystery in more ways than one. As the proclaimed Kingdom of Wonder — due to the discovered ruins and temples — the country itself emerges from a period plighted with challenges. In its emergence, Cambodia grapples with creating a new economic, political, and social identity amidst other Southeast Asian influences, such as Thailand or Vietnam, and bigger economies like China. The evident era of rebirth stems from a macro level, as the government extends open invitations to foreign businesses (hella Chinese and Australian companies here) to develop, build, and commercialize in major cities such as Phnom Penh.
Despite local contestation, this wave of transformation seems inevitable; therefore, leaving people to resort to a survivalist mode — or what I like to call a “hustle hard” mentality. You kind of have no choice given the disproportionate high cost of living for a very impoverished population in comparison to other Southeast Asian countries. Despite the growing pains, I think this country is dope af and hope y’all do too after reading this blog post.
Baba Moments: Peter Piper Picked Ya Pockets
Uncharacteristically, I will start off with my Baba Moments just because it’s my blog post and I can do what I want. Cambodia has a bad reputation of petty theft in these streets. Not too long after touching down, a few of my travel companions fell victim to this repute and got caught slippin. As a result, a few phones were lost, a few tears were shed, and a couple of mental alarms were sounded. While I empathize with anyone who has gotten their phone or valuables stolen, I have to respectfully push back on a commonly held sentiment.
Although Cambodia definitely has an issue with non-confrontational crimes, it has by no means been a violent or dangerous country in my experience. Now I recognize that I am a 6'2" male that occasionally walks around with a mean mug on his face, so the chances of me being a target are slim…but let’s be real. I’d much rather get jacked (this is how we refer to being robbed in the South. Figured I’d put some culture in y’all) here in Cambodia where I know they just want my phone as oppose to Memphis or New York. Let me illustrate why:
Furthermore, according to Nation Master and the OECD, the United States ranks 14th in countries with the most violent crimes (when using homicide as a proxy) while Cambodia comes in at a strong 91st. Lest we forget that the po po are also shooting folks back in the states too.
All this is to say that every country has its dark parts but it “takes both shadows and light to make a stellar painting.” — Young Picasso
Maybe it’s because I use to be a kleptomaniac myself back in the M, but I can’t help but play devil’s advocate. It really is a crafted skill for you to be riding a moped at 10 to 15 miles per hour, spot someone with a phone, ride by, and pickpocket them. That kind of technique and precision is arguably equivalent to averaging a triple-double (shoutout to the GOAT Russell Westbrook, you da real MVP homie).
So as a former rascal myself, I tip my hat to you hustlers in Cambodia. But fair warning. My momma use to tell me this all the time: If you’ll lie, you’ll steal, and if you’ll steal you’ll kill. Real slippery slope guys — and since I am only in the profession of killin em with the IG pics, I had to retire my Robin Hood career early. On the other hand, for those who plan to visit Cambodia, specifically Phnom Penh, a few tips:
- Walk with both hands by your side or better yet in your pocket. Harder to detach a hand than to snatch a phone.
- Leave your wallet and credit cards at home. You don’t need it. Cash rules everything around me.
- Take a tuk-tuk if you scary.
- Watch the shadows and look back at it. You can often times see the shadows of mopeds cast in front of you just in time before a bike rides by. I have given a few riders the ole rope-a-dope as a result.
- The pic ain’t worth it bruh.
- If you have a purse…I got nothing for ya. Good luck!
I had the pleasure of exploring the world’s largest religious monument, Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. I will let the pictures do the talking themselves, but I must take a few words to shout out my tuk-tuk driver and friend, Sokaa. Anyone that can enjoy my company for 8 hours straight has to be the homie.
and without further adieu…The Kingdom of Wonder.