A Letter to the Woman Who Got Screwed over at Cambodia’s Border

A deeper look into the excuses that we make out

On TripAdvisor, I recently read a post about a woman and her boyfriend trying to cross the border from Vietnam to Cambodia. When she got to the border and brought out their passports for processing, the Cambodia visa officer demanded a fee of $35. The lady was speechless, angry; the price printed on the window was clearly $30. She was being ripped off.

She refused to pay and stood at the window for over half an hour, negotiating, compromising. Even when the officer decided to lower the price to $32, she refused to accept. “I won’t pay anything except $30”, she insisted. She stood her ground.

Eventually, the half hour turned into an hour and the officer finally took her $30. She left the building angrily, only to find that her bus had left without them along with all their belongings.


A lot of people had commented on the post, relating to her experience of being charged more money than was posted. Most of them told her she should’ve just paid the additional $5 and moved on because it wasn’t worth the trouble.

She replied:

“The point here isn’t about the extra money. It’s about the corruption. And I’ll do everything in my power to minimize that corruption. ”

But that’s where she’s untruthful. It was about the money.

If you’re going to fight in a war against corruption, arguing back and fighting against a solider on the front lines isn’t going to do anything. It won’t make a difference how long you argue at the window for. The officer won’t care about how much time you’ve spent arguing because they’re getting paid while they argue. They’re getting paid by the hour.

If you want truly wanted to fight against the corruption, there’s are things you can do beyond just stalling the inevitable.You have the power. You’d find a way to enter Cambodia’s messy politics. You’d write and protest to the government someway. You’d write and blog about its corrupt practices rather than recount a story of your terrible experience.

There’s a big difference between someone who says something and someone who does it. Actions prove who someone is while words prove who they wish to be. If you’re serious about something, put in all of your effort. Don’t just scratch the surface of what you said you’ll do; any insincerity in our actions will only serve to waste time and you have better things to do than that.

About the author

Jon Lee

I travel the world in search of lessons worth sharing. Addicted to culture shock and transparency. Currently working on heeyy and duuck.

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