The hunchback of cambodia
Trip Start Dec 28, 2004
272Trip End Ongoing
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When I last left you oh constant and glorious reader I had just arrived in s'ville and had jumped on a moto taxi to find my friend who was getting married. My friend Mickey is a great guy but his budget is definitely above mine so I was unable to stay at the same posh little place he had holed up in. Of course not one moto taxi driver had ever heard of his place but I was determined to find it since that was the whole reason I was in Cambodia in the first place. After a nice drive across town and a brief search I located the residence in question and after talking my way past the security guard was given directions to his room. Of course he wasn't home, that would have been too easy after all. Instead, I heard people in the room directly across the cramped hallway talking about the knocking at the door. Soon the door opened and a face appeared. I would say an A-typical gaunt English face....40-45 with about 2 days stubble and the thick English accent that insured that I was bound to miss 1 out of 5 words spoken out of his mouth. "You looking for Mickey?" He asked in a friendly manner. "Yeah I'm here for him wedding, I'm Neal." After hearing this, the man introduced himself as Chris, informed me that they had been forewarned that my arrival was imminent and most surprising of all.......that the wedding was off. I think Chris's exact words were "there have been developments.....the wedding is off." I was then invited inside and out on the balcony for further discussions while admiring the magnificent view of the ocean. There was one other guy in the room with Chris and he introduced himself as Eric who had the exact accent of an American but apparently was Swiss....be speckled and very clean cut is the best way to describe Eric. Of course the room did not belong to either of them, it belonged to another Eric....an American...who was out doing something for a few minutes but would be back momentarily. We hung out and talked and discussed the trials and tribulations of our friend Mickey.
So gather around children and let me tell you a story of deceit that is common in Asia and yet it seems that people don't learn from these sad tales (there is actually a website called "Bangkok stickman" that is dedicated to these stories LOL) and are forced to repeat the sins of their forebears. Anyway.......s'ville is a beach town but a very poor beach town because everything in Cambodia is very poor. You may have a 4 star hotel in phenom pehn but the second you get off the grounds you are in a 3rd world country again. That being said, the beach at s'ville is constantly over run with girls selling fruit and other various snacks to the sunbathers and peoples on holiday. Our poor brother in arms Mickey fell for one of these girls that he met on the beach. He courted this girl for a good long while and bought her many a present. I think a brand spanking new motorbike was one of the first gifts and that will run you about $1400. Now understand that a Cambodian person averages a little over $1 a day in wages and you get some sort of idea of what Mickey represented to this girl......the holy cash cow or as I like to call it, the walking ATM syndrome. Now all this being said, the girl played the perfect part. She was loyal and wonderful and treated him like a prince. He met her family and bought mom and dad presents. His sister came out on a vacation with him and she met his side of the family. It was all very wonderful and a bit fairytaleish. So I get an email from Mickey somewhere around august I believe telling me he was getting married and that he would very much like me to come to the wedding in Cambodia. Seemed a bit sudden and all but hey, happy for the guy and all that good jazz. So even in Asia a wedding is not a cheap proposition. It's usually a 2-3 day affair involving a crap load of monks and depending on how rural the girl is, maybe a dowry (fucking amazing eh?). So Mickey, who lives in L.A. but goes to Cambodia on a regular basis, is making wedding plans and sending money for various aspects of the big day. I didn't ask out right because that's just rude but through what was said I'm guessing about $10,000 all told and done. So the story is that the girl (sorry, I don't know her name) was very excited and nervous about the upcoming wedding while on the phone with Mickey. He called her just about daily with no problems contacting her.......so the poor boy lands in pehnom pehn and gets off the plane to find no one waiting for him. He calls her number and the cell phone has been turned off. Within about an hour he realizes he's been scammed for a butt load of money.
This whole story was relayed to me via his friends while Mickey was out getting one of his 2 hour massages. And yes believe it or not they are just massages LOL. During the telling of this tale the resident of the room had returned with a friend. I guess you could say that the friend is pretty much the biggest seller of narcotics in southern Cambodia and that is quite a feat. So we go back into the air conditioned room where there was a plethora of pills and drugs laid out on the bed, being picked over by the American Eric. The dealer is a humpbacked Dane that apparently hasn't been sober in about 15 years and to be perfectly honest, kinda gave me the creeps. I mean no one should be that pasty and hunchbacked outside of a towering cathedral in Paris.....and you want to talk about strung out? Try to picture a very pasty, short and hunchbacked Danish man playing a mixture of Jim Morrison from the Doors and Hunter S. Thompson in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and you get a pretty good picture of what I was dealing with here. American Eric disappears into the bathroom for some private time with his fresh supply of heroin while the rest of us sit and discuss the making of opium infused hash. I'll say this for the Dane.....he may be a hunchbacked little bastard with a bad heroin habit but the man knows his drugs. He offered me 1000 valium for 1000 baht ($30) but I graciously declined. Anyone have a sleeping problem?
So the American Eric is stashed away in the bathroom in a mix of a heroin nod and violent vomiting. Chris has accidently smoked a joint of weed mixed with heroin so he's not feeling all too well and is one step from curling up in the fetal position but the hunchback is still going strong and is holding forth about the pros and cons of various strains of marijuana. At this point I look around at my company, realize I'm in the middle of nowhere Cambodia and question just what the hell I've gotten myself into and the quickest and most tactful way to get bale out. At this point, American Eric pops out of the bathroom in his boxers and proceeds to put on the uniform of a general in the Cambodian police force. Complete with aviator sunglasses. Now the crazy son of a bitch has taken the entire room on a spin on the surreal rollercoaster as he wanders the room aimlessly looking a bit ghestopish and yet still too doped up to say anything that makes too much sense.... I can't stand it anymore so I escape back out onto the spacious balcony where I can at least pretend that life was normal. It was somewhere around this time that Mickey returned from his massage and I greeted him and gave him my condolences for his trauma. Now I'll give the guy credit, he was handling it very well giving the staple response "oh well" and the standard "well that was a close call". All the conversations revolved around the money and how it really wasn't that much or how to get it back etc etc. What was never really discussed was Mickey's actual feelings about the girl but who wants to bring that shit up at the moment. I'm sure he was/is hurting but he put the brave face on and as he said "I'm on vacation. When I go back I'll have plenty of time to be pissed (and depressed)".
The next morning, American Eric went back to phenom pehn where he owns a hotel and the remaining 4 of us hung out in s'ville for 4 days, getting massages and the 3 of them smoking copious amounts of marijuana. I know 2/3rds of you don't believe me when I say it but I honestly haven't smoked weed in about 10-12 years. I mean hell; I can't even remember when the last time was. I will tell you this though and this is coming from someone with A LOT of friends who smoke the green.... Watching the 3 of them burn through that much dope was pretty impressive, especially since they are bordering on the old fart border (sorry Mickey). After the fourth day Mickey and I headed up to phenom pehn in a taxi and left Chris and Eric in s'ville. I was a little dubious about meeting up with American Eric again because he is a bit crazy but we were staying at his hotel (on Mickey's dime) so running into him was unavoidable. To my surprise, he was pretty much well behaved and not to abnormal while dealing with his own business and in the city of his residence. I suppose everyone goes a little crazier when on vacation lol.
I'm not going to get into the intricacies of the Thai visa laws but I will just say that at this point in my trip, I had to go to the Thai embassy in Cambodia and get a 3 month tourist visa. You actually have to leave Thailand and go to one of their embassies and apply for this. Cambodia is notorious for being a pain in the ass. The officials there always ask for more paperwork and make you gather more and more documents for whatever reason. Knowing this in advance I came prepared with all the paperwork I could possibly need, including fake flight confirmations out of Thailand, fake hotel reservations and a fake letter saying that I was attending diving school and not WORKING for a diving school. Working without the proper visa is a big no no. so I'm prepared and ready for the hassle and I'm at the embassy and waiting and a little nervous and finally my number is called. It turns out that I had overstayed my 30 day visas 3 times in the last 3 years. I overstayed twice for one day and the third time was for 3 days. The very impolite woman at the counter told me they would not give me a visa because I had overstays in my passport. "I need visa, my flight leaves from Bangkok to America" I tell her. "NO" is the reply. "But I am attending school that cost 60,000 baht" I plead with her "NO". "Can I please speak with your supervisor?" I ask very politely. "NO". Well talk about being screwed!
So after leaving the embassy I go directly online and buy a ticket to Kuala lumpur for the next day because while the Thai embassy in Cambodia is known for being a giant pain in the ass when giving out visa's, Malaysia has the opposite reputation and just for shits and giggles, there are two different consulates that I can hit up on opposite ends of the country. Well I went to the embassy here in Kuala Lumpur today and gave them my passport without any problems so far. I have to go back in the morning and pick it up and Buddha willing, there will be a visa in it. I mean to be honest, it would not be a huge deal not being allowed into Thailand for 3 months except for the fact that #1 my parents are coming to visit me in January and #2 ninny, my girlfriend, is getting very very very impatient with me not being with her. It's nice to be needed and loved but it does add a pressure to the situation that I don't like dealing with. I want and need to get back to her as fast as I can but I'm not accustomed to that sort of mind set. Just what the hell have I gotten myself into? So everyone wish me luck with the visa thing and hopefully I'll be admitted into Thailand very soon.......told you these posts may get longer.