It was very first time in my life I confused so much what is common sense.
I went to Immigration Office in Phnom Penh to get my passport with newly extended visa a few weeks ago. But an Immigration Officer said there wasn’t my passport. I couldn’t believe what she said. She said an officer whom I submitted my passport to the day before that day, wasn’t the officer in charge of visa extension, and she had no idea with my passport. What?! The guy was not officer in charge of visa extension? Why could that horrible situation happen? It was too hard to believe.
One day before that day, I couldn’t find where Visa Extension Department in Immigration Office and asked one guy I met there. He said’ OK. Come here, please.’ And then he asked me ‘Which country is your passport?’, ‘Japanese’, ‘It costs $55 and you would receive new visa after 2 o’clock tomorrow.’, ‘ It should be $45.’, ‘ No, $55.’
I had no choice at that time since my visa was almost over. I had too little time to give up to apply that day. The guy somewhat dubious but I thought the price maybe changed. It often happens in Cambodia. Finally I paid $55.
When I was at a loss to hear no my passport at the Visa Extension Department, one other Officer in charge of Visa Extension, said to me the guy I submitted my passport to had my passport. But he didn’t know where he was at that time. Why was it possible that he went out of Immigration Office with my passport? The officers knew the guy had my passport, it means they knew the guy cheated me. Why didn’t they accuse the guy and try to get my passport back to them? I was almost dead of anger to everybody in Immigration Office. It’s really unbelievable. What should I do without passport here? I started to feel insecure.
Fortunately I had the guy’s phone number just in case, called him and got his answer. He said ‘ Why you didn’t come to the office at 2 o’clock?’
That was true he had said my visa would be ready at 2 o’clock the next day. But I didn’t think it was a appointment with him. Did it mean after 2 o’clock visa is ready as I should have gone there at 2 o’clock? Why was I blamed by him? His word made me really unhappy. Anyway, he said he had my passport and would come back to Immigration Office. The only one thing I could do was to wait for him back. I didn’t know he would really come back or not. My worry became bigger and bigger.
While I was waiting for the guy, the officer in Visa Extension Department told me this was my fault since I didn’t go to Visa Extension Department. I got mad to hear that again. Is it my fault to ask an officer in Immigration the way in Cambodia? Was it a common sense here? But I couldn’t show my almost bombing indignation because I needed his help to ask the guy giving me back $10. Yes, the guy cheated price as well. Actually it cost only $45. He cheated $10.
Unfortunately the officer said ‘It is out my business. If I say so, my colleague would get angry with me.’ His words made me really mad. ‘Don’t you have any pride of your job, terrible man?’ I refrained the words in my mind. They don’t care for non-Cambodians, but their folks.
Actually I found some Cambodians never care of such kind of moral. They seem to think non Cambodians should pay money for them in any ways. They always charge expensive price to non Cambodians. Of course I truly understand this country is so poor that people need help. But I feel annoyed with their attitude of getting used to just get receiving something by foreigners. When they see foreigners, just ask us money. In this country, we have no choice but to obey this culture heavily tainted by corruption.
Even though I asked help many times to the officer in charge of Visa Extension, he went back home leaving me alone finally.
I didn’t know whether the guy would bring my passport or not and whether I could get my money back. I was so nervous and uneasy. I wondered whether to get my passport stolen?
I really needed someone beside me to make me easy.
Although I asked a HKL staff who took me to Immigration Office by motorcycle to wait for more 5 minutes, he also left me alone. I couldn’t explain how sad I was seeing of his motorcycle going. But I knew he wanted to go back home. I just needed to accept it.
The waiting time alone made me become so anxious and uncomfortable. I felt quite alone. No energy with my body. Eventually, I couldn’t keep standing.
I’m sure my face at that time was so terrible and ugly. ‘I came here for Cambodian people. Why did they treat me like this? I would never come back to this terrible country, never, NEVER!!!’ refrained negative words in my brain.
The waiting time seemed forever. I tried not to think negatively and to do something. I checked the time quite often with mobile and then tried to call somebody, but didn’t finally since I felt nobody could help me.
Nothing to do in front of Immigration. Just watching cars and motorcycle were coming and going with empty feeling and disappointing at Cambodian society.
After my million-times calls, the guy miraculously came back to Immigration Office with my passport. The visa was completed the procedure fortunately. He didn’t show any guiltiness and didn’t give me back $10.
‘ Why did you cheat me. Give me back $10.’
‘ I don’t have $10′ now’,
‘ Liar! You should have.’
‘ You can check my body!’
Childish talk. But I was so serious.
Actually, $10 wasn’t so big money for me, but I didn’t want to obey this terrible society with bribe.
I suddenly remembered some Cambodian friend had told me when I get cheated, I should think to have made donation or paid lesson bill to learn Cambodia. In the case of my $10, should I think so? No, I’d love to help Cambodian people, but not in these ways!
Never ended talk with the terrible guy, finally I started to cry getting frustrated by him and myself.
‘I work here to help Cambodian. Why do you cheat even such people doing their best for your country?!’
He looked around others looking at us and said, ‘I’ll pay it tomorrow. Don’t cry.’
Of course I didn’t believe his word. But I had no choice. There is no help and it was getting dark. I could not check his body and check how much he had. Finally I got back to the office without money back.
After 2weeks from this horrible day, I was cheated again and lost my money. Although I truly know not everybody cheat me, the horrible experiences impacted my motivation very negatively. To work for developing countries is much harder than I expected in my country. And then I found I need to complete my mental preparation and never give up to achieve my goal no matter how horrible experience I would have.
To keep working in Cambodia, I need to overcome my experiences and never lose my motivation for this beautiful country.