Traveling from Laos to Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, was exhilarating for several reasons. First, Laos is boring. Asia is all about being heckled, and though you can get fairly decent pot in Laos, the girls who walk past you on the streets don’t say things like “Hey boy! You want Boom Boom?”
Second, people in Laos are poor. But not like a “fun” kind of poor, more like “I’m-just-a-poor-farmer-working-my-soil” kind of poor. In Cambodia, on the other hand, people are poor in their souls. I suppose genocide does that to a population
Here, anything goes: You can inject heroine for the price of dollar pizza, you can have sex with a 12-year-old girl (or boy, or both for the price of Sally Struthers,) you can drive a motorcycle in whatever lane you choose…and no one’s going to stop you.
The odd thing here is that there is NO ONE my age here. No one was born in the 70’s, I suspect Cambodians weren’t feeling very frisky at the time. So at any nightclub in Phnom Penh, the population peaks at 23 or 24 years of age, then a gap, and it picks up at around 35, 36. Dy, the Khmer fella who ran the Bodhi Villa where I was staying, was the closest person to my age in Cambodia.
He is in his early 30’s and, interestingly, he spent most of his life living in Minnesota. He looks and sounds straight out of Action Jackson.
Last week, I was almost entirely asleep when a fly fell from the ceiling and into my ear. Kerplunk! I woke up, and thrashed my head about, using gravity, my fingers and Q-Tips to fish it out, but it only sent the bug in deeper. I could feel it scratching against my ear-drum, pleading for its life. Dy put drops of alcohol into my ear and I heard the bug crunch to its ultimate death. I figured I should go to the doctors in the next few days as I could feel crunching in my skull whenever I yawned. The nice doctor extracted the fly and gave it to me as a present.
I have just arrived in the southwest city of Sihanookville, today. Everyone I have met in Cambodia has been very friendly. I am having a good time and have recently been inspired to start working a script for a short movie about a very weak man, who is also poor in the soul.
Next week: we begin our round-the-world trip with Shin Yi Siew.