Well Played 

Optimism: noun

1. a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.

2. the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.

“Believe there is good in the world.”  I’ve always liked this phrase and I try to begin each day with this type of spirit.  I tend to be naturally optimistic with a, “no need to worry about it ’til you have to” attitude.  Even in the worst of situations I will make an effort to dig deep and find at least one positive.  This approach has encouraged me (and annoyed Chase) in numerous situations.  However, it has also led me to quite a few disappointments, especially here in southeast Asia.  

I like to think that most everyone is a decent human being; that many folks are ethical, honest, respectable, and incorrupt.  I can’t imagine doing something to purposefully hurt someone for my own gain.  Therefore, I expect others to share this sentiment.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case and we are currently seeing and experiencing it first hand every single day.  Racism is ever-present however, what agitates me the most are the daily scams.  Did you know that before we arrive in a new place we reaserch what scams we should be prepared for?  Seriously!  It seems ridiculous but it’s a dire part of surviving (or not being fully taken advantage of) over here.  

Luckily we have avoided several based on general suspicion and good sense.  We’ll google the event afterwards and sure enough, it’s a common scam of that particular area.  The first was in Bali and there have been countless more since then.  The scam we have unfortunately fallen victim to on more than one occasion has always been regarding a tuk tuk driver.  We tell the driver our destination and settle on a price.  Miraculously in the middle of our ride they can no longer speak or understand English and drop us off on the side of the road, nowhere near where we had originally discussed.  Or, when they actually do take us to the proper place they demand we pay them more or they refuse to give us change.  There’s really not much, if anything, we can do.  We don’t want to cause a scene and the authorities probably wouldn’t side with us anyways.  I know it’s only a few dollars but it’s more the principle than anything.  How can a person be so cruel?  How can a person knowingly take advantage of someone?  There’s one more scenario regarding orange juice.  I’ll spare the details here but if you want to know, feel free to ask!

As far as scams go, Cambodia has been the worst, by far.  See for yourself with a quick google search of “scams in Cambodia.”  This list will provide hours of entertainment.  For instance, there is a fake Cambodian visa office at the border crossing.  I’m not kidding and you have to pay for it!  The second you step foot on Cambodian soil the scamming begins and so far, it hasn’t let up.  We wanted to volunteer at an orphanage and quickly found out that there are fake orphanages here too!  Just in order to help out heavy research must be done in or to figure out if it is even a legit organization.

I’ll be honest, witnessing this seedy side of travel has been discouraging, disheartening, and at times disgusting.  The ugly begins to emerge and I begin questioning everything and losing hope in people.  Fortunately when these emotions arise, God has a way of renewing my faith.  A stranger will offer directions (to the actual right place), an elderly woman will offer a genuine smile, or a kiddo will shout, “helllooooo laaaaadyyy!”  These brief moments snap me out of my negative space.  I’ll continue to believe there is good and do my best at being the good every step of the way.  And on the occasions we do get scammed, maybe I can just give them a nod and say, “Well played.”  

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