Posts Tagged ‘Angkor’

Siam Rape

September 17, 2011
Originally published in Veritas Newspaper, March 2010

When I suggested to the Editor we start a Veritas guide to your most exotic travels, many of our readers clapped their hands in joy and began licking their greedy chops at the thought of vanilla milkshakes at 2p a pop, draft beer for breakfast and promiscuous evenings of debauchery like some 19th century imperialist Indiana Jones. Stop. Before you go skipping off to book your Gap Year at STA read on and think again before you start strapping up your colonial boots.

 So, here is something that the Lonely Planet guide doesn’t tell you: Cambodia or Kampuchea as it was formerly known is a shit-hole. You don’t believe me? Go ahead, be my guest. Take the first bus or train out of Bangkok, where you will have no doubt have spent your last fortnight vomiting into a bucket after playing with a pretty young girl who has a penis and cross the border at Poipet. It’s a shit-hole. I told you so. I love it how as soon as you have paid for an all luxury passage out of Aranyaprathet and into Kampuchea, your travel agent and bus driver disappears and suddenly you are surrounded by men you wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire, telling you to hand over your precious American dollars in exchange for an eight hour ride in the back of a pickup truck. It is only when you reach Siem Reap or Battambang that you realise the currency is in fact Riel and that you have just paid ten times over the odds. How does it feel to be ripped off in your first day? Don’t worry you are not the first and certainly won’t be the last.

 If you survive the journey, good luck to you. I spent six hours waiting by the side of the road after our wheel flew off. I should have known really that the rear axle would eventually give way upon high speed reckless driving where there are no roads as such, just clouds of dust on a dry, Mad Max- Beyond Thunderdome highway. You may think it’s all over when you stop at one of the many marquees set up along the side of the road for tiffin. Wrong, you have another four hours drive before you can digest dead dog or deep fried spider. I prefer the spider myself as you can close your eyes and try not to think about the jaggy hairs that slice the back of your throat and imagine it’s a Cadbury’s Cream Egg as you pop the fried shell and its bodily fluids trickle down your throat.

 On arrival at Siem Reap you nest down on a blood stained mattress and try to ignore the kid’s hand that is squeezed through the window bars pawing at your iPod. Don’t worry your holiday insurance will cover that. In the morning the first thing to do is search for ‘Boom Boom’. I know it’s a bit early for a shag, but the temples can wait and the prostitutes start early in these parts. It comes from the high demand of extra curriculum activities during the UN occupation of the late eighties and nineties. Our boys didn’t have much to do after Pol Pot executed almost every single man and woman in site and used their bones as fertiliser for the rice empire, Angkor. Oriental women are renowned for their charm and the UN boys just couldn’t resist. Cambodia is now one of the biggest Aids carriers in the world, second of course to our other colonial adventures in Africa.

 Next on the agenda is the beach. The Chinese have been paying the corrupt Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen lots of money to dump their toxic waste off the coast of Cambodia, and nature has a tendency to remind us of just what we are dumping into our seas by washing it up on our shores. We are no longer living in the Tang Dynasty of House of the Flying Daggers; China is one of the leading manufacturers in the world and produces a lot of waste it can’t get rid of. Thank god the Cambodians are open arms when money is talking. I never got around to visiting the beach, but I heard it was best to lock your hut at night.

 There are many other hidden delights that I will perhaps embellish you with another time. The Russian Mafia, the black market weapon trade in Phnom Penh and its firing range, under-age prostitution, Ketamine, political assassinations, crocodile farms and twenty foot long pythons, but I don’t want to bore you any longer so we’ll wrap it up for the night. Remember always get your inoculations as hepatitis can be a killer, protect yourself from STDs – never forget your flexible friend and don’t forget to visit Angkor Watt before the Japanese tourists turn the stone into powder with high powered flash photography. Thai Airlines provide regular flights from Bangers into Phnom Penh if you want to avoid the Sergio Leone experience and Thomas Cook are open for bookings all week from 9am till 5pm. Enjoy your Gap Year. 

Recent update on the socio-political paradise of Kampuchea: