9th August, 2008
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I'm sending this message to any of you that might be considering a trip to Cambodia. I was there for more than a week. Siem Reap was interesting and I had a great stay at EarthWalkers Hostel, which is run by some great people from Norway. I also went to the capital and saw the Killing Fields. Next, I went to the beach in Sihanoukville. At the beach I stayed at Coasters. It was okay, but rained countinuously. When it stopped raining on Tuesday around 3:30pm I took a walk going East along the beach. I had seen many people - tourist and locals along the rocky beach. I took my camera and my backpack with water and a book. I passed the bungalows called Cloud 9 and stood on the rocks facing the sea. I was only maybe 100 meters from Coud 9's beach hut bar. Just so you know this was between Seredipity Beach and Sokha Beach (private beach). There is a point between the beaches which is rocky. Many people were there before me, but at this moment I was the only one on the rocks. Just minutes before I could see two women standing 50 feet away from me near a stone pavillion next to Cloud 9.
All of a sudden a Cambodian man came down the hill onto the rocks. He looked at me and I said "Hi." He also said "Hi."
Next thing I knew he grabbed my shirt and raises a butcher knife above my head. I grabbed his arm holding the knife instinctually, in shock. He was attacking me, pushing me between two huge boulders along the water's edge. I was fighting for my life and screaming bloody murder.
He pushed me into the boulder, hitting me head. I let go of his arm and I reached for my backpack to give him what I thought he wanted. He told me to be quiet and pushed me onto the ground while he went through my wallet. He took maybe $60 and at some point I lost/had stolen my camera.
He held up the butcher knife while telling me to go further East along the rocks - away from the bungalows.
I told him that I was going back from where I came from.
At that point he lowered the knife closer to my head as he tried to push me onto the ground again.
Again, I decided to fight him for the knife. I was stronger than him and so he ran away from me. I was free and ran for my life. I turned around to see him hiding behind aother boulder, but soon after running further away - up the hillside or around the rocks, I cannot remember exactly. It was a blur and I was running away.
I ran to Cloud 9 where they did not call the police, but rather sent 2 men off after the robber. They asked me what to do, but I was in shock. My only thoughts were my life, just wanting to leave Cambodia and go home. They had walkie talkies trying to find him based on my description. I thought they had called the police. This part is a blur because I was in shock. At this point a handful of tourist had gathered and were trying to help. The bartender at Cloud 9 said they had him and I was supposed to go with him on the motorscooter around the corner. We took the bike to the road overlooking the beach. I did not see him, and was afraid to go into the wooded area overlooking the rocks. I was in shock and realized they had NOT called the police. It was just me and the bartender, on the motorbike, looking for this guy that just tried to kill me. The man at Cloud 9 told me to call the police in the morning......
I next checked out of Coasters because I did not want to stay alone. ( I stayed with a very sweet couple from Switzerland that last night.) I told the western guy working the counter what had happened and he said THIS HAPPENS A LOT. (Yes, Lonely Planet mentions a rape on the beach, but I thougth I was near a bungalow, had seen many people in the same place, and therefore safe.) I know not to drink in bars alone, to not be friendly to strange men, and to not go walking at night alone, but this? It was 4pm on the beach not even 100 meters from a hotel. So I asked him to do me and everyone else the favor of simply saying, "Don't go on the rocks over there because it isn't safe," to everyone who checks in at Coasters. The man would not look me in the eyes when I pleaded with him to do this favor. In fact, he went on to say you "gotta be safe" and started telling me about the time he was in Bangkok and got into a fight. Well, I wasn't in Bangkok, at a bar, or fighting - I was being attacked in broad day light where many other people were just minutes before. The western man went on to say, as if to make me feel better, "Well, they'll catch him. He'll be back because he got $60 from you."
I went to the local police who showed me photos of men who had stolen along the same beaches - SERENDIPITY and OCCHEUTEAL. Then I heard from others that heroin is a big problem so maybe the guy was high. This would explain why he was so damn skinny and thus I could overpower him....Never the less this did happen and it should not happen. I filed a report. The police officers asked me to go with them the next morning to search for him along the beach and the hillside. I told them I would not be staying in the country and that they should continue doing their job without me. I had done my part by filing the report. The police officer also told me that had I called them at first that they would have caught the robber......Doubtful as the man had $60 USD and ran either 1. around the rocks (inaccessable by car) or 2. up the hill (inaccessable by car) and the police are slow. When we arrived at the station 10 minutes after calling them from Coasters we were half greeted by a man sleeping in a hammock. Only, 20 minutes or so after the call did the police arrive at the closed police station to take my statement at 6:40pm. Yes, the police station was closed at 6:40pm on a Tuesday night. So, NO they would not have caught the man on the beach at 4pm.
On my way out of the country I also went to the US Embassy. They were genuinely concerned, took my statement, and said they would send a man down to Sihanoukville to investigate.
Tourism will NOT flourish in Cambodia if they do not protect people. Most hotels and hostels have security guards at all times, but the beaches and beach bungalow/hostels did not. I will be posting this on several online sites about travel to Cambodia - including Lonely Planet and TravelFish. Please tell your friends and family that might be going to Cambodia that it is not safe - sober, in daylight, 100 meters away from a hotel bungalow - it is not safe. Angkor Wat is great for about 3 days, but that is all I should have done and seen in Cambodia.
I only want as many people to know about this as possible so it does not happen again. Cambodis is not the new Thailand, it isn't even the next Vietnam. Afterall, I went to Vietnam last summer for 3 weeks alone and nothing like this happened.
#1 Posted: 9/8/2008 - 01:38
Wow. The guy was more likely to be high on yabba than heroin I think ...lot of it about in Snooky and young naive backpackers sometimes get into deep (life threatening) trouble when they mix with the wrong people there.
Thanks for the warning.
PS. You didn't mention this site.
Tales of Asia is mainly specialized in travel to Cambodia. The owner of the site lives in Siem Reap and has a GH there. I could post a link to your post here but I think it would be better for you to post on there yourself in the Cambodia "travel" section.
#2 Posted: 9/8/2008 - 04:13
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