Here's what not to do while travelling in Cambodia: Put everything important, including all your money and identification, into a bag, go out drinking at a local pub, then go walking alone down a dark road back to your hotel. Yeaahhh... that would be very dumb, indeed. Call me dumb.
So, I went out the other night with a few friends and since my hotel was only a few blocks away, I figured I'd save myself a dollar and just walk. About 20 steps away from my hotel, a guy on a motorbike drove past me. He reached over and tried to snatch my bag from me. I guess he didn't realize that I had my arms all wrapped up in the straps, so, although he had a really good grip, my grip was better. And actually, my natural reaction to him grabbing my bag was to clamp down even tighter on it. What he ended up doing, then, was spinning me around and throwing me violently down to the ground. I got up right away and screamed obscenities at him at the top of my lungs as he sped away. The words from my mouth didn't form well since I was still trying figure out what had just happened. I managed to get out a 'Fwluck Yewww!' and some other gibberish, which despite not being very effective, felt good to get out. My yelling also brought out a crowd of people from the nearby guesthouses (none from my own) who ran to see if I was alright. My primary concern at that moment was my bag... if he had managed to get it, he would have acquired a wealth of valuable things- my passport, all my other identification, a decent amount of cash in several different currencies, my traveller's cheques, my credit card, my debit card, my digital voice recorder, my digital camera (without all it's necessary parts, which really would have been a waste, because he wouldn't have been able to ever use the camera), and my journal. He also would have taken my treasured medicine bag... the object that I thought I had lost a week ago which caused me to wander around the streets of Chiang Mai at night in the rain, bawling my eyes out (but then I found it after some detective work). To the theif, it would just be an ugly withered little leather sack, but to me, it's irreplacable. That's all my bravery wrapped up in that little sack.
When the people came out to see if I was okay, I was many things... in shock, in pain, relieved, angry, scared, and actually, embarassed. I was embarassed, because I had been so stupid. I'm not naive. I know these sort of robberies are fairly common here. I know how to avoid them. Yet, I ignored my common sense and put myself at risk anyways. I gave a desperate man an opportunity. I immediately dismissed everyone's assistance and told them I was okay in a calm sighing Charlie Brown sort of way. I dusted myself off, picked up my water bottle, and completed the steps to my hotel. The staff at the hotel smiled and asked how I was, and I just smiled back and said, "I'm fine".
When I got into my room, I was able to assess the damage... some blood, some insane bruises... my whole left hip is black. I showered the blood and dust off, disinfected and bandanged the scrapes, and felt much better. I'm very lucky. It could have been much worse. Lesson learned... don't get lazy about being careful!