I quickly started playing with the kids, testing which game on my iPhone appealed most them. When the mother returned 5 minutes later she had brought an older lady along who came equipped with a big bag of tools and she started working straight away on my bike. I happily played along with the kids and could see from a distance that she was an experienced tire fixer.
When the bike was nearly fixed she indicated the price: $5. Which isn’t much for European standards, but in Cambodia where the average salary is less than $40 per month this is a lot of money. Through two kids, who had arrived on a scooter, I told her that I really appreciated her work, but that $5 was out of the question. I can pay a maxi….when she walked over to the bike and let all the air out from the tire. I checked my wallet and saw that I didn’t even have $5 in change. Almost $3 was all I had. The next alternative was $10. She obviously didn’t have change for such a high amount. And this was assuming that I was willing to pay the money.
A western looking guy drove by on his bike. I halted him. He was Spanish and and I changed a loose euro for a dollar (I knew one day it would come in handy).
In the end, I paid $4 for repairing a flat tire. I drove on my bike and was quickly overtaken by the two guys on the scooter. After 3 minutes something felt wrong. I quickly checked my pockets and immediately noticed what was missing: my beloved iPhone. Tears came to my eyes, my pictures, my private diary, my music: my life! I quickly concluded that the guys on the scooter somehow must have taken it. I raced back to the house where my bike was repaired. When I arrived I saw the little boy playing with my iPhone while seated next to his father. With an enormous sigh of relief I took the iPhone and drove off again. I was in a hurry as I was late.