Moving to Cambodia – Day 1
When I decided to come to Asia my heart was set on the Philippines to play poker again and that’s where I bought my plane ticket for.
About 2 weeks before I left I found out that it might be hard to get a bank account and lease that quickly in PI.
I was told about a guy in Sihanoukville, Cambodia who would give me a lease for cheap and that I could open a bank account on arrival.
I really needed a lease and bank account ASAP to get verified on PokerStars and start grinding online again after Black Friday, so suddenly I was moving to Cambodia. I did an interview about poker in Cambodia here.
I had never even heard of Sihanoukville or know how to pronounce it (people just call it ‘Snooky’). My only knowledge of Cambodia was that P-Diddy thinks it has the best breast milk in the world.
I actually thought it was in Africa until I started reading up on it.
The problem is you can’t find near as much info on the net about moving to Cambodia as you can about the Phils / Thailand.
I read all that I could and asked around on some forums, but my info was limited. I had read up on Phils for 7 months, I was as prepared as I could possibly be without actually having experienced it.
And now I’m changing plans last minute heading to a place I didn’t even know about.
First Day Moving to Cambodia
Cambodia has a pretty bad reputation so I was a bit nervous when I first got there. Not only just the Polpot days but I kept reading that it was ‘a lawless place’ and ‘the wild west.’ It’s reputation had me quite intimidated.
I took a cab from the Phnom Penh airport and asked for a hotel I had found but the cab driver told me it was quite far from the airport and the bus station and recommended a closer place. I decided to check it out and when I got there it looked pretty nice (for Cambodia) and decided to stay. It was too late to head to Snooky that night so I had to spend 1 night in PP.
I didn’t really have anything to do and was focused on getting to Snooky, but I still thought it was my 1 night there in PP I should at least walk around a bit and check it out. I was not in the touristy area at all and saw no other white people.
As I first left my hotel I was approached by a Cambodian guy who offered to show me around, but I declined. I walked for about 10 minutes and it felt like every group of people I passed were staring at me.
On top of that there was a constant stream of motorbikes wizzing past me at all times and that was the most intimidating part of all. I got some water bottles and headed back to my hotel. They had a big sign up that said no drugs or prostitution, yet one of the guys at the hotel tried to offer me a ‘nice lady massage’ twice in my first hour there. I was a bit scared of a set up and declined and went to bed early.
Bus ride to Snooky
Knowing what I know now I would have taken a shared van for $8 that would take about 3.5 hours, but no one had told me about that at the time and I thought my only options were pay $60 for a taxi or $5 for the bus.
Being as I was on a limited bankroll clearly I chose the bus. It was a long trip, and all I remember about it is that I sat next to some kid from Cali who was blowing his last few thousand dollars after college before flying back home and getting a real job.
When we finally arrived in Snooky I was happy for the ride to be over, I absolutely hate bus/plane/car rides and grabbed my suitcase and got off. I found the nearest tuktuk and asked him to take me to my hotel. Right as he is about to drive I realize something isn’t right, it takes me about 10 more seconds to realize I left my backpack on the bus.
Now would be a good time to point out I have three valuable things on me at this time. My laptop, my passport, and money. All three of which are in my backpack. Genius! I jump out of the tuk-tuk and scan the crowd but don’t see anyone with it. I run back to the bus and a few Khmer guys are asking me what’s wrong.
I run onto the bus and look in the above compartment and it’s not there. I run back off the bus to scan the crowd again and nothing. I am totally freaking out and go check on the bus again and notice it is behind the drivers seat. Disaster averted but it was a huge wake up call that I needed to be more careful.
Views of Phnom Penh, via Bangkok 112 on Youtube – check out his red light district vids
Plans don’t always work out
I had one plan when I got to Sihanoukville. Head to the hotel that would give me a fake lease and stay there for a month and start to work. When I arrived at the hotel and checked out the rooms I instantly knew I had no chance of getting any sleep there. The windows were huge covering the whole wall and it would be extremely bright. It was also right on the main road and Asians use their horns more in one day than I have in my entire life. Luckily the owner says he will still give me the fake lease, and recommends a place his buddy owns up the street.
I go to this new place and it looks pretty empty. I get a room and it is not very nice and I know I won’t be staying here for the next month but one night will be fine. I take a shower and then put the pillows up against the headboard and hop on the laptop to surf the web. As I’m sitting on the bed I hear something scurrying and barely see something out of the corner of my eye. I wasn’t sure if I saw anything and looked behind the dresser to investigate but nothing was there. I assume I was mistaken and sit back in the bed.
A few minutes later I let out the biggest scream I have ever yelled in my entire life. I am not talking a little girl scream, I am talking a grown man thinks he is about to die scream. As I am sitting there with my back against the pillows some crazy rat runs up to the side of the bed and jumps behind the pillows. This may sound impossible but the bed was only a foot and a half or two feet off the floor. I screamed and jumped up and got everything I owned and got out of there as fast as possible.
After getting half of the $15 I paid for the room back I went to a nicer looking place across the street. I checked the room for rats, and then folded up a towel and put it at the base of the door so none could run in. I really think that moment was the most traumatized I have ever been. I have had things happen in my life that were bad, but I’m not sure anything ever scared me that much. I sat in my room in shock for awhile and decided to go check out Snooky.
In my brief research on moving to Cambodia I’d heard the beach was where the best nightlife was, I wasn’t really in the mood to do much after the rat, but I still wanted to check it out. I got dropped off on the nice touristy area and walked around a bit. Had some fish, fries and salad for $3 which you can find all over the place near the beach and is a great deal obviously.
When I had chatted to the guy who was giving me the fake lease I asked him if there was anywhere that was dangerous and I should be careful about. He said that overall it was a pretty safe place, just have some common sense, and watch out for the beach at night. As I am walking down the touristy street I am getting closer and closer to the beach.
I am still totally freaked out and traumatized by the rat and am on full alert. When I get to the spot where you have to take a few steps down and then walk to the beach I just freeze. I see some tourists with little kids walking down the steps.
I turn around and head back towards my hotel. I couldn’t walk where a 6 year old was walking because the rat had totally freaked me out.