Expat in Asia – Cambodian Tales – Part 1

Writings of my partner – Richard. Memories from Cambodia

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My first blog.  Welcome viewers!  This is my chance to vent my thoughts, reflections and experiences about living in Cambodia.  After 19 months living here I feel I can be honest and candid without giving you a ‘rose-coloured’ view of this place.

Why the title Gay/Str8/Love/Hate Cambodia?  Being a gay 40 something male, my perspectives will naturally be viewed from this angle.  However I have never been a ‘label queen’ and don’t sit comfortably in prescribed boxes.  Gay liberation to me means being able to be myself in any given place.  I enjoy friendships with people of all sexual persuasions and hope that, both gay and straight, you will all find my blog interesting, informative and at times confronting.  Cambodia is a country that people either love or hate (I will expand on this in my next and future blogs).  For me it is both love and at times hate – depending very much upon recent experiences or my partner’s moods.

It is my intention to give you an insight into what it is like living here, how fabulous and how at times frustrating it can be and hopefully to encourage people to come and see for themselves.  Ok – I do have an ulterior motive.  My partner and I recently opened a small guesthouse here in Siem Reap and we would love to attract cool people (of all sexual persuasions) to visit and hopefully stay with us.  Also we really want to let people know what a fabulous but unknown gay mecca awaits them here.

Why Cambodia?  Well any country where Kim Wylde sings the anthem and the national dish is Pol Pot has got to be cool.  Aside from that the weather is gorgeous and so are the boys!  Consideratley many of the more homely are kind enough to wear surgical face masks when out in public.  The food is delicious (and so are the boys), and cocktails are wickedly cheap – starting from $1.50!!!!   From a business perspective Cambodia is possibly the easiest place in the world for a foreigner to start up – all you need is the capitol and a business visa (starting from $25 US for one month no questions asked).

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Welcome back viewers.Today I am loving Cambodia.  The temperature is (finally) a pleasant 27 degrees and the rain is just starting to ease off.  After 7 months of dry hot days it is an absolute pleasure to have some cool and wet weather.  I love the rainy season.  Daily temperatures drop from between 29 – 35 degrees to a delightful 24 – 31 degrees.  Generally days are dry and you can watch the sultry clouds building to a crescendo which unleash in the late afternoon.  Just before the storms break the wind whips up bringing swirls of dust which are sooned dampened by the torrential, but brief downpours.  The only downside, which comes later in the season, is the flooding.  Last year we spent over a month ankle deep in water which seemed to cover almost the whole country.  What fun it was dodging floaters and trying to avoid cholera and typhoid!

So let’s keep on with the ‘I love’ theme. I love the simplicity of life here, the unhurried, stress-free attitude the Khmers display (except in traffic).  I love watching the trucks laden with enormous blocks of ice which the handsome boys adeptly carve up in minutes to deliver to restaurants.  I love seeing people trundling hand carts laden with all sorts of goods for sale – everything from hand made feather dusters to knife grinding while you wait.  It is so romantically medieval.  I love the gorgeous trees which bloom with enormous, brightly coloured flowers nearly the whole year round.  I love the amazing variety of tropical fruit and the cheap prices they sell for.  I love that you can get a full body massage for around $7, a good dinner for two for around $10 (often much cheaper).  I love that cocktails can be had from as little as $1.50, ciggarettes from as cheap as $3 a carton!  For an aging queen like me it’s a dream come true.

As I type I am watching a bhuddist funeral procession wending down the street.  Gongs and bells and accompanying mournful tunes, monks in saffron robes, people all dressed in white leading the elaborately carved and decorated coffin and holding white chrysanthemums – so exocitic and evocative.  The other side of this though, is the 3 day ceremony which follows.  An ear-blasting cacophony of music and chanting at illegal decibals which go from dawn to dusk.  All done outside so the entire neighbourhood has to endure.

Noise is a side of urban Khmer life that I hate.  Whether it is the continuous buzz of motos, the heavy roar of trucks (which all look they were bought from the set of Mad Max), the honking of horns and hooters or the blare of music from car radios or the loud conversations they have with eachother while riding motos – it is pretty much non-stop.  The only sound you don’t hear much is birds singing.  Apparently because they have all been eaten.  If they don’t eat the birds then they eat all the grasshoppers so the birds food source is vastly diminished.  Fried grasshoppers smell absolutely delicious though – but no way am I game to try.  Eeeeeeuuuuuuw!

Next installment I will update you a little on the night life scene in Siem Reap and other places.  Give you the low down on gay life in Siem Reap and hopefully tantalize you with a few glamour shots of the gorgeous boys. Can’t wait?  Not sure I can either – I am already salivating at the prospect.
Enjoy and be gorgeous viewers…..until next time.



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