I prided myself in being able to say that I never locked my bicycle in Siem Reap for two years and never had a problem. I’ve left it outside on the busy streets of the Old Market almost every day while I bought groceries and outside restaurants.
One time when my friend and I decided to go dancing late, I left my bike unlocked next to her scooter until 3 a.m. I thought for sure it would be stolen. We walked back to our bikes and they were both there and the last ones left in the pitch dark.
I knew of course if it ever got stolen, it would be my own fault it was my risk. In Vancouver, bikes get stolen within seconds I would never think twice about leaving it unlocked unless I was in a farming community.
The day it finally happened
I was playing at my weekly football game at Goal Academy and as usual, I did not lock my bicycle in the parking lot among many bikes and scooters.
After the game, I went out and couldn’t find my bicycle after looking around the whole lot. Some people thought someone might have accidentally taken mine by mistake.
Of course when someone takes your bike, it’s long gone and I can’t imagine trying to attempt to find it.
Chan, the owner of the small bar and the football field, surprisingly had a video camera tied to his phone and he played back the time I arrived and monitored to see who took my bike.
But the camera was only black and white and there were so many people in the shot, I wouldn’t have been able to spot who took it in the footage. Chan said, “I’ll investigate for you.”
I laughed and said, “No it’s ok please don’t waste your time there’s no way we can get back the bike. Thanks so much though for looking.”
After we looked at the footage for about 20 minutes, we saw a kid take a bicycle, but I couldn’t tell for sure if it was mine. He said, “I know that kid, I’ve seen him hanging around here.”
I left Chan my phone number in case anything turned up, but I was doubtful.
So I thanked him for his time and started making arrangements to buy another street bicycle.
My bike hero Chan
The next morning, I wake up and see a text from Chan. “Hey, I got your bike. It’s in my office, come pick it up anytime.”
Shocked, I asked him, “What? How the hell did you find it?” He said, “I’m FBI.” And I replied, “No you’re way better in FBI. No police in Vancouver could track down a bike.”
When I went back to his bar, he wheeled out my bicycle and asked him again how the hell he found it. He said, “After you left, I spent three hours looking for your bike. I would have felt so guilty if it got taken on my property.
I asked some people if they knew that kid around the market and one guy recognized the kid and knew where he lived. So I found the kid and took back the bicycle.”
I never met Chan formally until that night and couldn’t believe he spent that much time looking for my bike. I told him I’d bring people to his place or treat him a dinner sometime and said, “No don’t worry about it I would have felt bad if something happened.”