Forgotten Passport, AKA Just One Example of Why I Love Cambodia

When I arrived in Phnom Penh to Okay Guesthouse, I went to pull my passport out to give it to reception so I could check in.

After I realized it was not in my wallet, an immediate feeling of dread came over me.


I frantically searched through all of my belongings – not much, I carry just a backpack – as realization slowly dawned on me.

I had left my passport under my pillow at a tiny guesthouse. Where no one spoke English. In the TEENY tiny town of Kompong Cham.

This place barely had electricity and definitely didn’t have business cards or web site, can’t yellow page or google that shiiiit (yes I tried).

I wrote down a bunch of phone numbers of surrounding businesses, none of which were correct, and the amazing manager (Phally) at OK Guesthouse calls all of them, in an attempt to figure out if there’s a phone number for my place (there’s not).

He hangs up and tells me the bad news (not only is it a case of a forgotten passport, it is now MIA), and helps me book a bus ticket back so I can hopefully find it.

I’m trying really hard not to cry, as its important to save face and stay composed, but I can’t help it, the emotional American girl side of me is definitely coming out, I’m fighting it, but I am still crying, just a little, and the manager’s wife is rubbing my arm telling me it’s ok.

Then the phone rings. A random Khmer lady Phally had accidentally called went and found my passport and is holding it for me to come pick up tomorrow.  When the good news came, all the staff cheered. The manager wrote down everything in Khmer for me and gave me his phone number in case I had problems and told me to call him when I figure it out tomorrow. I LOVE CAMBODIA.

What it looks like when you rip your bag apart in a desperate attempt to find a passport that is actually hours away

What it looks like when you rip your bag apart in a desperate attempt to find a passport that is actually hours away

I slept through my first alarm, waking up eventually at 6am, even though I had fallen asleep by 9 the previous night (sleep deprived maybe?). I paid for another night at Okay, hoping I’d make it back in time from retrieving the forgotten passport to enjoy it.

I jumped on the all-Khmer bus at 745am and began the 4+ hours back to Kompong Cham, cursing myself the whole way. I’d seriously forget my head if it wasn’t attached to my body.

I arrived by 11, found a moto, and got my passport, all within 15 minutes (the lady didn’t want to take any money but I insisted), and made it in time to catch the 1130 bus back to Phnom Penh. What luck!!


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

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