I Fought The Law

Not even 24 hours in Phnom Penh, and I experienced my first run in with the police! I accidentally went down a one way (small) street. Didn’t see the sign. And there was a Cambodian about 10 yards in front of me going the same way, so I thought it was ok. Low and behold there was a gaggle of police hanging out at the corner and one immediately walked into the street, stopped me and pulled me over. He told me of my infraction and I was surprised. There was someone else driving the same way and didn’t get pulled over! And honestly, I didn’t see the sign. They mumbled some things, which I couldn’t decipher, but gathered I needed to pay the $7 or I would have to go to the police station.

I knew this was bound to happen in Cambodia because I’m a foreigner. Thankfully I read a few blogs on what to do in this situation, so I was prepared (even though I was shaking inside!!). I learned that you should put your money into two compartments, and have only a few dollars in one, so if pulled over, and asked to pay, you can show them that you only have a few dollars. In my wallet I have these two compartments: small bills just in case I get pulled over and the rest. I’ve been keeping 10,000 riel (~$2.50) in my “just in case” compartment, but just bought petrol, so only had 7,500 (~$1.90). I showed him all pockets in my purse and said it was all I had as I just went out to get petrol. Little white lie, I know. But it’s the game!

He grumbled a few times but finally took the money and sent me home. Pfew. I made it through!!

While I’ve learned there is some corruption with the police in Cambodia, they do not make a lot of money and are not publicly funded by taxes, so this situation is typical and I chalked it up to helping their families eat.

And now I’m more prepared for the next time this happens 🙂


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