How Stashing Cash Backfired

Dollars and Cambodian Riel.

It’s common for travelers to stash potential emergency cash in extra places.  People sew secret pockets on the inside of their pants, shorts, shirts, and in their backpacks.

If you get creative, there are endless places where you can diversify access to money by hiding a bill or two in a secret location.  If the rare instance occurs that you lose or have your wallet or money belt stolen, and you have no access to cash, at least you’ll have something so you can eat, sleep and get to where you need to go.

I’ve got a few different places where I like to stash extra bills.   I use little pockets located inside my big and small backpacks.  I use a side pocket of my cosmetic case, and I utilize pockets in clothing.   I’ve also been using the two pockets on my Roocase mini notebook carrying case that a friend donated to me the day before I started drifting indefinitely.

I feel that I’ve been diligent about this cash diversification.

Before I got off the bus in Siem Reap, I was already greeted by a young man who offered to drive me to a place of lodging in his tuk tuk.  He explained that the ride would be free, but that he hoped I’d utilize him to drive me to Angkor to see the roughly one-thousand-year-old ancient temple ruins including Angkor Wat, the biggest temple complex on earth.

I explained to him that I’d like something in the $10 to $15 dollar range and that my main requirement was a place that offered free wifi in the rooms.

The first place he took me to only offered a connection in the lobby.  I thought:  In SE Asia I’ve been spoiled with solid connections in every room I’ve stayed in so far.

The driver then brought me to another accomodation.  Upon asking for wifi they said only a couple of the rooms had it.  In the first room they brought me to I pulled my laptop out of the case and started up the machine to test the connection.  It was fair at best.

Have room upstair have good wifi.”

The hotel man took my big backpack while I followed him with the small pack and the computer, still turned on.

Two days later I was ready to take the laptop to a restaurant when I realized that my case was nowhere to be found.  After about five seconds of brainstorming I bolted downstairs to the first room the man had shown me.  The door wasn’t locked. No one had stayed there in those two days sinced I’d checked out that space.

The case was history.  I thought: Shit!  I don’t have a case for my laptop anymore.    How much cash did I have stashed in those two pockets, along with an extra copy of my passport?  The passport copy isn’t important.  Surely no one can do anything with my passport number.

For a while there’d been a twenty dollar bill along with a 1,000 Baht bill or $32.79.  Just three days before in Phnom Penh, I’d taken a few hundred dollars out of the ATM.  Since the machines in Cambodia like to spew out 50-dollar bills, I’d stuck one of those in for added security.

I immediately went downstairs and spoke in a very slow, clear English to the manager of the hotel.  It took a while for me to get my point across.  He tried his best to find the case but couldn’t.  He assured me that he’d ask the cleaning staff.  I thought: They didn’t even need to clean the room as no one had stayed there since I’d seen the room.

The next day I asked him again and he still didn’t know.  The next day after that he
approached me with the case.

In trash.  Cleaner throw away.”

I instantly opened up the pockets.  The only thing there was the passport copy.  It wasn’t the end of the world as I’d already written off the $102.79 which I rounded down to a hundred bucks.

I started trying to explain this to him but then stopped as I figured it to be of no avail.  There was no way I was going to get my money back.  It was my own fault for leaving the case.  This was a fluke.  I thought:  There are always going to be cash write-offs when traveling.  I don’t like it when it’s this large a chunk though.

I saw five cleaning women the next day.   I obviously don’t speak Khmer (Cambodian), and they can’t speak English.  If I’d gotten the manager to accuse the cleaning ladies, I can’t imagine that they would have admitted to taking the money.   I pondered: They probably earn a few dollars a day and more than likely have a hard tim putting food on the table.   Imagine the envy these poverty-stricken women possess.  They must see us foreigners as being ridiculously wealthy.

Cambodia happens to be one of the poorest countries in Asia.

Other than that unfortunate experience that was my fault, everyone at the I Win Hostel treated me very well.  For $13 a night that included all amenities, it was a steal, even though in the context of that word, the maids got the last laugh,.  Still, it could be argued that they found the money.

We all know the old adage: When it rains it pours.  As you could see from the
flooded streets of Siem Reap, it poured there.  It poured for me too as I’ve also had a couple of other significant write offs in the past week, which I’ll more than likely write about in a near-future post.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Annie on September 20, 2011 at 00:15

    Oh that stinks, but at least you got your lap top case back. Its hard to lose money but you can also look at it that the places you stay at are so inexpensive, make believe the hotel cost 50.00 a night, still a bargain.

    Are you still enjoying the rain?


    • ANNIE: Thanks! Well, it was a story anyway. 🙂 As the saying goes: S*it happens. Things will never be perfect. I’ll always make mistakes. The key is to learn from them and not make the same one twice. It’s just a write-off and behind me now. Also, the person(people) who got the hundred bucks are very poor. They’re probably part of the 60 percent of the earth‘s population that live below the poverty line. So, I did a good deed by spacing out on the laptop case which I plan on replacing today or tomorrow anyway as this one is falling apart and got worse from being in the trash. I have restashed a 20 spot and another thousand Baht bill in it. I’d better not forget about that. 🙂

      I arrived in Bangkok the day before yesterday, not much rain. The flooding in Siem Reap also subsided. It’s definitely rainy season in SE Asia but that usually means a little bit of rain late in the day. It just rained here for about five or 10 minutes, and it was a very warm rain, so it’s just fine.


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