An update from the last post about losing my phone in Cambodia.
Adam and I went to the police station today to file a report. I certainly didn’t expect my belongings to be found, but I needed a police report to claim with my insurance company, World Nomads. I’ve bought their policy several times, but never had to use it, so I hope that it will go smoothly.
We were warmly greeted by curious police officers. They called an English-speaking cop and we waited for them to arrive via motorbike. They asked Adam where he’s from and then asked me. Like most people we meet in Asia, people cannot initially accept that I’m American.
“You look like you’re Japanese.”
Eh. I’m used to it by now, but it doesn’t make it easier.
They guided us into a room. The King and Queen’s portraits were plastered on the wall under a Cambodian Flag. We asked one officer to translate the beautiful Khmer writing. Kingdom of Cambodia. Small talk in basic English ensued.
At first, I felt nervous being in a room with three uniformed officers, but they were kind and helpful. I wrote out my information and described the incident in detail for the report. I could check off either snatch, stolen, or “rubbery“. I honestly didn’t know much of a difference.
They were hesitant to mark it as stolen rather than lost. They explained that they didn’t want this to shine a negative light on Cambodia as a country, that it is a dangerous place to travel and thus affecting tourism We assured them that we won’t go broadcasting Cambodia as a dangerous place. In fact, I feel safer here than I did in parts of America. The truth needed to be shed on the report though: my phone was taken.
I saw many spelling errors on the official form, like the Kingdom of Mambodia. The officer was embarrassed and we fixed the errors together. Adam and I ended up helping them proofread English contracts and reports. They felt bad about having these errors, but we assured them that it’s totally fine. English is not their native language and they do not need it in their everyday lives. Who are we to come to this country and expect all English to be correct? It’s not like I know how to speak Khmer fluently and I am actually in Cambodia. I didn’t want to be condescending in pointing out errors, but they were grateful and wanted us to fix as many errors as we can.
Here we were, going over English words with police officers in Cambodia. This was a reminder that we are all human, even those in uniforms who seem like they have more authority. We can all help each other out.
They asked us for a tip, if we wanted to. From our travels, we’ve learned about the corruption and bribery of the government in some developing countries. But I still felt like these police officers were honest and hardworking. The English-speaking officer dropped out of high school during the Khmer rouge. His only two options were either to join the military or police force. Well, we know what happened.
We ended up giving them some money. Not much to us, but it goes further for them. It did feel awkward giving police money to create a document, but that seems to be the way it works here.
An interesting experience nonetheless. To me, going to the police station, hospital, local market, etc., is more of an experience than going to a tourist attraction to snap a photo. Sure, I do mix in some beautiful places to see. They’re touristy for a reason. But to experience everyday life of the locals is another kind of experience.