The Cambodian Ministry of Tourism recently reported that 2.86 million tourists visited Cambodia in the first 10 months of 2012, an increase of 24 per cent from the same period in 2011.
Angkor Wat is still the number one tourist attraction in the country, and Phnom Penh rates very highly among Asian cities to visit.
As the number of visitors increases, so does tourism-related crime, including bag snatching and mugging. Chinese actress Bai Ling was in Cambodia in August, and was the victim of purse snatch while riding a tuk-tuk in Phnom Penh. I received a phone call the next morning from a friend who was involved in a movie that Bai Ling starred in, and said Ling’s purse had her credit cards, driver’s licence, money, camera, BlackBerry and passport.
It’s not a good feeling when this happens – especially when you are a foreign visitor.
Many tourists visit Cambodia and their mode of transport is a tuk-tuk or motodop. This can sometimes be dangerous as some have been the victims of crime.
But locals, particularly women, can be targets – even today’s Police Blotter carries a piece on such an incident.
In another distressing story, a Cambodian woman recently fought off thieves who pulled her off her moto while trying to steal her purse. Fortunately, the scoundrels were unsuccessful and drove off empty-handed. But bruises left her painful reminders of the episode.
A Westerner, too, recently had her purse snatched by ne’er-do-wells on a motorbike. Two young guys on their moto came beside her and grabbed her purse. The first guy tugged to see if it was secure, then they sped away with her purse in his hand. Now the woman wraps the handle of the purse twice around her wrist when she rides a moto.
There are many stories of people who have been victims of such crimes, and it happens in all cities around the world, not just Phnom Penh.
Here are safety tips when riding a tuk-tuk or motodop.
- Some tuk-tuk and motodop drivers are alleged to be involved in organised crime, and will take you directly to an unknown place. Be careful, and get recommendations on tuk-tuk drivers who are trustworthy from hotels, friends and colleagues.
- Never ride in a tuk-tuk late at night and alone.
- Don’t leave bags or other goods open to snatchers on motos. Place your bag in the middle of the seat and close to you when in a tuk-tuk.
- When riding a motodop, put the bag or purse between you and the driver.
- Don’t wear too much jewellery, and don’t carry unnecessary valuables and cash.
Don’t get me wrong, riding in a tuk-tuk is the best way to see the city, so have fun. But, as always, keep safe, too.
The Social Agenda with Soma Norodom
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.