About the Wiser Next Week Series: These entries will involve posting my book, Wiser Next Week, chapter by chapter, freely available to the public. Additionally, I’ll be recounting a story about something I’ve learned based on the chapter’s topic since the months that have past when the book was published in December 2018.
Wrong Station Kid
When I was in Cambodia, one of major things I wanted to see was Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. I was in the capital, Phnom Penh. I booked a overnight sleeper bus to get to Siem Riep, where Angkor Wat is located.
I bought the ticket online from a website based primarily in Thailand which I’ve previously used in the Land of Smiles without issue. So I made that same assumption about Cambodia.
I normally time things pretty tight so the night I was going to head up to Angkor Wat, I was hanging around the local mall (there was only one Western type mall in the city) until it was about time and I walked over there.
When I got to the bus station with about 20-30 minutes before departure, I showed my ticket to the counter and they started talking amongst themselves in Khmer (the national language of Cambodia).
I looked around and noticed I was the only person waiting on a bus and there were no buses. I was somehow able to communicate with the ticket agent and he told me this was the wrong station.
I looked at my watch in disbelief and tried countering the words coming-out of his mouth in vain. Even if I ran there was no way that I was going to make it to the other side of town where the other bus station is.
I was arguing and debating with myself over the endless possibilities of what went wrong, wasting time.
A Race Against The Clock
The ticketing man called out across the street in his native tongue and a man ran towards us. A taxi driver. He had a tuk tuk and said he would take me to the bus station. I asked him how much was the far and he said 5 dollars. It seemed overpriced to me so I tried to talk him down. The taxi man knew I was in a position of desperation so he wouldn’t budge.
I cursed my stupidity and pointed at my watch, indicating him to be quick. To his credit he ran red lights and drove on the wrong side of the road to get me there.
By the time we got there it was only a few minutes before my buses scheduled departure. I ran around like a headless chicken to the amusement of the Cambodians waiting for the bus. I banged the door of a bus that started leaving, running alongside it, driver said this wasn’t my bus.
I spotted a couple of Caucasians and asked them if they were waiting on the same same bus as me. Calmly, they told me the bus was late.
Phew! Made it.
What I Learned
This little goose chase around town could have easily been avoided if I had planned things out properly and used reason and logic to dictate my actions. Put another way:
If left unchecked, our emotions can lead to wildly inaccurate interpretations of the world around us, seeing things through our own lens, rather than for what things really are. Just as mirages can play tricks on our vision, emotions can play tricks on our perception.
I wasted valuable time in denial that I had gotten the wrong address for the bus station. Even when it was printed onto my ticket. My panic clouded my vision and lended me to see things as I wish they were, not as how things are in reality.
Besides getting the right address (which I failed to do again in Japan, Korea and Indonesia), the lesson to take away is to be flexible in your approach in matters. As time passes, it is only natural that better information to come along as the fog of war lifts.
It is at that point where it is important to be objective and see things as they are, not how you wish them to be or thought it was in the past.
Here is the “On Perception” chapter of Wiser Next Week. Take it and implement it into your own life.