From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Sven Serrano) Newsgroups: alt.slack Subject: A SubGenius in Cambodia - Part 1 Date: Thu, 06 Mar 1997 01:46:33 GMT Organization: Setsunan University Message-ID: <email@example.com>
As the Royale Air Cambodge Boeing 737 dropped its flaps and began its final approach to Pochetong Airport the importance of my mission began to weigh heavy in my thoughts. As the first true SubGenius to set foot in Phnom Penh I would have my work cut out for me - first, to spread the word of "Bob" in these the few remaining months before X-Day two, to party my ass off on behalf of those who could not accompany on this holy incursion and three, to get that same booty out alive and in one piece. Little did I realize at the time that everything in my life, including my previous travels and my training as a SubGenius monk, had amply prepared for the tests I was about to face. The tires kissed the tarmac in the early evening of February 3, 1997 and I quickly went through the motions of rubber stamps and visas. I was soon on my way into town to begin the trippiest trip I have ever taken in my life.
A brief bio of myself.
Nationality: U.S. citizen of Mexican-Finnish descent (this qualifies me ALONE for mutant status). Holder of Japanese resident visa since 1989.
First exposure to SubG: Sometime in 1979 when I saw a small "Bob" sticker pasted up at UCSD in La Jolla, California
Claims to fame: Interviewed William S. Burroughs for a 'town-gown' throwaway newspaper in Bloomington Indiana in 1981. Saw "Bob" shot at the Victoria Theatre in 1984 in San Francisco.
Current ranking in Church: As a result of my residency in Osaka (since 1989) and my combined contributions of over $200 to the sacred PO Box, plus my associations with Puzzling Evidence and Dr. Hal Robins of the KPFA show I claim the title of Pope of all Western Japan.
Personal data: Married and divorced 3 times, no children
Cambodia, in its 5th year of relative 'peace' since the departure of the United Nations peace keepers, is an amazing place. On the main drag of Monivong St. there is a 'gold rush' feel that comes with the arrival of fresh money, most of it in the form of Malaysian and Thai investment. But a close look at the Khmers reveal a 9th century people hurtling headlong into the 21 century, still heavily armed and scared from the years of great evil when the Khmer Rouge shook the entire country like an Etch-A-Sketch and wiped the slate clean. More that any other place, Slack for most of the people is a good dinner of rice and black carp. King Sihanouk, a wacky Louis XIV type, still presides over a government divided between the nominally royalist FUNCINPEC party and the former Vietnamese-backed People's Party (who still control the bureaucracy even though they lost the election). Add to this a bunch of squabbling small parties and different groups of KR defectors and you have a nice strain of political instability. The King, by reason of his hobby of making really bad movies, deserves minor SubG sainthood. Vive le Roi!
My first stop at a lovely, lakeside guesthouse shows why Phnom Penh and Cambodia have become popular among the backpacker set. The rooms are $3 a night and by mid-afternoon everyone is toking and smoking the semi-legal False Frop which the Cambodians have grown for centuries to use in their cooking. While the American Drug Enforcement Agency is running around trying to get the Cambodians to burn the fields and stop the transshipments no attempt is made to curb activities of the casual foreign smoker. How long this will last is anybody's guess. I snorted in disgust, thinking of the pale white crystals of pure Hapafropazipulops encrusting "Bob's" pipe and set about on my mission.
I embask on my usual plan of 'being myself' among the packs of normal backpacking agers, while surreptitiously sticking leaflets in the piles of discarded Cambodia Times and paperback books. The first Dobbsheads go up on the corner wall where local 'rave' party flyers are posted. As a Pope, I sit down in the large lounge area, grab a hammock ( a truly slackful way to relax!!!) , and then in the course of actual conversation with these mostly NORMAL humans I start to do what I do best - I pontificate on just about every subject imaginable. As a result of my studies I am a reservoir of obscure knowledge, an encyclopedia of lost dates and forgotten songs.
Example: I'm talking with some Japanese kids when this European guy joins the group.
Me: Where are you from?
Him: (Expecting noone has heard of his country) Slovenia.
Me: Oh yeah, the home of the Tolar.
Me: Your currency. You use the Tolar, right?
Him: How did you you know that???
Me: Your capital is Lubjiana and you guys helped break up Yugoslavia by winning a 10-day war with the Serbs in 1991. Were you there then?
Him: (Still amazed that anyone knows anything about Slovenia) Yeah, yeah, they sent us up to the mountains to hide. How do you know all of this???
Me: (Turning to the Japanese) You guys still think all war is bad??
Talk to the Slovenes. They won.
Flyers and "Bob" T-shirts are fine. But to really impress both advanced and indigenous people that you belong to a genuine fightin' faith you need to wear the small cloissone "Bob" pin (available in the SCATALOG -Order one now!!!). After a while I am asked the meaning of my pin and I give my first rants to unredeemable normals. But all the seeds fall on dry ground. I even pick a few verbal fights with these wimps in order to stir up the hate power in me. Waving my hand to escape the clouds of false frop smoke I make way down the muddy path, past the open food stands to where the moto-taxi drivers wait, hire one for 1000 Riel (2720 Riel to the dollar) and head into night and downtown Phnom Penh.
If you ever wondered what it might have been like to have been a journalist or an off-duty squaddie in Vietnam in the '60s, then an evening in Phnom Penh will satisfy this curiosity. Anyone can walk into the Foreign Correspondents Club on Sisowaty Quay, order a drink and sit in colonial splendor, watching the Mekong flow by at sunset and the flicking tongues of the gecko lizards on the roof. Then at any moment some guy will come in all flushed from his 4 wheel wild ride from Battambang province ready to drink and tell all to anyone who will listen. Then a string of bars await you with names like Heart of Darkness, Sharkeys, the Irish Rover, DIS, Martinis and more, dispensing Angkor beer (made in country with Australian assistance), billiards, false frop (and stronger), and a parade of freelance B-girls from Cambodia, Vietnam and even South China. High rollers can go to the Naga floating casino or any number of Cambodian dance restaurants.The fun part is getting there in one piece as motorcycle bandits are now fond of sticking up foreigners by simply cutting them off on side streets and holding the gun to their faces. All you can do is wear a crap watch and carry only $20-$30 in cash with no ID or credit cards.
Here's a few samples from the Phnom Penh Post police blotter from January:
1/24 An unidentified robberr killed by police on Route 26 in Kompong Speu province. Fleeing the crime scene, the man hid in some bushes and police threw two grenades at him. (Unidentified is right!)
1/28 Morm Bunna was killed by a farmer near Sihanoukville. He was one of three bandits who killed a cow in order to get the farmer to surrender his motorbike. The farmer responded with an AK 47. (Looks like steaks tonight, honey)
1/30 Toch Rany, 32, a military policeman was killed by the owner of a restaurant in Phnom Penh. Rany had argued with the owner' s wife because his duck was late and put a gun to her head. The owner came and shot Rany in the head. ( I love non-violent conflict resolution, don't you?).
After a few days in Phnom Penh I had already visited the Royal Palace, the Silver Pavillion and the National Museum, the standard fare. I was happy to see that there was an official building with the sign MINISTRY OF CULT AND RELIGION. Next time I'll get a letter of introduction from Stang and go and register, I thought. Then I decided it was time to visit the atrocity exhibition (the first of many J.G. Ballard asides). An 16 km moto ride out of town takes you some of the actual 'killing fields' whre the Khmer Rouge dispatched whole slews of people with farm implements and machetes. Sample sign "Here in this mass grave were found 132 bodies without heads." The heads were probably used to spell out "Have a Nice Day." (Janor: "That's kind of neat)
Buyt you can get your full share of carnage in the city by visiting Tuol Sleng (also known as T-21) the infamouse KR detention and troture center. Housed in a former secondary school T-21 dispatched about 100 people a day at its height of operation in 1977. Inmates were photogrphed and then tied to metal bed frames for session of electro-shock and forced confessions. Viewing the documentary pictures of the victims, which included a few westerners whose yachts strayed into KR waters, I had to ask myself if we would also adopt such methods in order to scour the earth of Normals. No, I thought it would be better just to convince them to jump off of cliffs with all their possessions, screaming " I WINNNNN!!!!!!" For the occasion of this visit I wore won of the many 'joke' buttons I had brought along on the trip. This one, in black and white, read "Are you going to come quietly or do I have to use earplugs?"
To be continued.....
Sven A. Serrano, Setsunan University
2-14-22-18 Shimanouchi, Chuo-ku Osaka 542 Japan
tel (06)212-1830 fax (06)211-3244 firstname.lastname@example.org
From: email@example.com (Sven Serrano) Newsgroups: alt.slack Subject: A SubGenius in Cambodia Part 2 Date: Sat, 08 Mar 1997 03:14:13 GMT Organization: Setsunan University Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Ahhhhh. Beatific waves of pure slack rolled over the length of my 6ft 1 in frame as I lolled in my hammock back at the guesthouse on Boeng Kach lake in Phnom Penh. Around me the normals were merely 'relaxing.' Big difference. I looked up on the wall and saw the Dobbshead smiling down on me, commanding me to go and save the heathen and shethen. I knew what I had to do next.
It was a long moto-ride north of town on a very hot day. Fortunately I had brought along a goofy looking cotton cap with French Legionnaire neck flaps on the back. When I packed for this trip at the last minute I had thrown into my bag a large number of wierd gadgets and pieces of equipment which I thought I might need on this trip. Not only did I use each and every one, there were key moments when they SAVED MY ASS! More on this later.
(Proviso: the following contains references to paid services. Subs know full well that our Epopt, J.R. "Bob" Dobbs is a famed vice master and a whore monger. As is his companion Connie. SO DON'T WHINE TO ME!)
When I arrived, I knew that I was going to do this right. Just relax, get to know the people, have a few drinks, and enjoy the show. To top it off it was a festive day, Chinese New Year, February 7th. So at high noon I walked down the main dirt road of Svay Pak, also known as Kilometer 11 and the girls of each one of the 12 bordellos stood up and beckoned me towards them. "Hang on, honey, I'll be there in minute." I eventually got to the end of the road and received a nice invitation, one I could not refuse, from the ladies of House No. 45. They pulled me to a chair, shoved a Tiger beer in my hand, and two of these lovely ladies (all of whom are from Vietnam) plopped down on each of my knees. The grin on my Dobbshead shirt (Available in the Scatalog-BUY ONE NOW!!) grew even wider. "Thank you 'Bob'" I whispered.
Like another one of my favorite English novelists, Graham Greene, I enjoy the ambience and atmosphere of these places, even if only as a non-participating spectator. And what a show. Khmer guys zoomed up on motos and drove straight into the parlor, the girls shutting the sliding doors behind the bikes as they rolled in. A car load of Cambodian secret police with guns and walkie talkies pulled up and the girls squealed and dragged them in for what was obviously a freebie. Other dazed foreigners walked by, including a German who could only mutter in disbelief "It's too much, too much." Then, as it was Chinese New Year (Vietnamese Tet) a troupe came by to do the Lion Dance in front of the house as a girl waved a charm on a stick in front of the Lion dancers costumed head to the accompaniment of exploding firecrackers. Too much. Heungghh!
The madam sat on her beach lounge chair, smiling and counting the money. With the aid of a Vietnamese phrase book I tried to ask why they had come to Cambodia. Lyn, a spritely 18-year old (They were all over 18, by the way. I had my Fish and Game Dept. measuring tape and if they weren't, I threw them back in the water) explained it to me in her best broken English. "Vietnam no boom-boom. Cambodia..." and she hand-gestured stacks of money. The going rate, by the way, for short time, was $5. (FIVE DOLLARS FOR SALVATION!!!). But now it was time for me to do my duty. First, I gave away a stack of American condoms, much to the appreciation of the girls. The plague infection rate in Cambodia is estimated to be around 30-40% as the Khmer men sadly aren't wearing safety. The girls earlier had noticed the smiling pipe-face man and when they asked I made a prayer sign and looked to heaven. Then I reached in my bag and pulled out a sack of 8 1/2 x 11" Dobbsheads. I shouted "Lucky money god! Lucky money god!" The girls squealed and grabbed them, then rushed over to the Chinese kitchen god altar. It is custom to burn little wealth charms in front of it on New Year's Day. Up in smoke went the Dobbsheads, rising to heaven like the clouds from "Bob's" pipe itself.
(Go to alt.binaries slack to find jpgs with the title No45. Lyn grabbed my camera and took these pictures)
February 8 found me on a fast boat filled with tourists, booming up the Tonle Sap river, on my way to Siem Reap and the fabled temples of Angkor Wat. For the next three days I explored the grand sandstone edifices, which rival the great Pyramids and the Aztec and Mayan palaces. Hindu and Buddhist legends are depicted on the massive bas reliefs and I watched breath taking sunrises and sunsets from the top of the towers themselves. The Air Nike super boot/tennis shoes, which I had only bought at the last minute because they had my size in Japan, allowed me to jump and and climb over the massive stone ruins like a mountain goat. I had my picture taken in an empty army checkpoint hut near Ta Prohm, sucking on my corn cob pipe. My alert moto driver pointed to my "Bob" pin afterwards and said "You make same same picture, like him pipe man." Clearly I was making progress winning over the natives.
War ruins were in evidence as we passed an old Lon Nol era defensive redoubt with three old U.S. M-113 armoured personnel carriers arrayed in each corner. The K.R.s had fixed their hash. The bad boys still operated by one of the northern ruins, Banteay Srei, and three tourist had died trying to view them, even though they had an armed escort. But the shortwave radio I had brought (another lifesaver) announced more Khmer Rouge defections to the government, and the last of the fighters decided to pack it in and make money like everyone else. Only Pol Pot remains in his stronghold at Along Vieng, protected by 2000 fighters and eight miles of concentric rings of mines....
An amazing thing happened on the way back to Phnom Penh. I said goodbye to Mr. Hong, the Chinese owner of the Sunrise Guesthouse in Siem Reap, who was kind enough to post a Dobbshead in his establishment at my insistence. ( I was down to one crumpled copy when I went next door to the film shop and xeroxed 10 more at the pittance price of 200 riel a copy). My moto man got me down to the boat, the smaller, slightly more dangerous one. One of these had had the bow drop off and sank a few weeks ago. Everyone had lived but lost all of their gear. Clouds loomed over head and the only room left was on the roof with the luggage rack. I began to hum the theme song to 'Gilligan's Island' -"the weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed. Wedged on top next to me were a Cambodian Army Colonel with brief case and a Japanese guy who had sunburned his face on the roof of the boat on the way up.
We were halfway across the lake when the waves picked up and the rain suddenly came down in buckets. Everyone on the roof was completely exposed and all they could to was grab pieces of the the luggage tarp. My shoes kept me from slipping of the slick roof of the boat while the swells rolled us back and forth. I remembered the old, throwaway collapsible umbrella I had packed without a thought back in Osaka. I pulled it out and deployed it against the driving rain and wind, thinking 'this will never work.' Amazingly it held. Suddenly I partially protected. I reached in my bag and pulled out my walkman headphones, not the little earplug ones but the full earmuff type. I have these because the plugs never fit my mutant right ear. ALL OF A SUDDEN MY EARS WERE COMPLETELY DRY AND WARM. I popped a cassette of surf guitar from the Pulp Surfin' compliation. Suddenly I WAS DRY, COMFORTABLE AND ROCKING OUT to my tunes while everyone around me was SUFFERING AND EATING SHIT IN THE RAIN. I couldn't believe it, a true air bubble of slack in this little hell. I looked around me. The Cambodian colonel was trying desperately to keep his footing on the deck. The Japanese guy was even worse off. The wind and rain was PEELING THE SKIN OFF OF HIS SUNBURNED FACE LIKE SOME 'ALIEN' FILM SPECIAL EFFECTS. And there I was, smiling and tapping my fingers. It took all of my strength not to stand up on the top deck and do the Watusi. And so it went for the next 3 hours as I only paused to change tapes. NOW THAT'S SLACK!!!! (As practiced by the Shining Path of Least Resistance)
to be continued
Sven A. Serrano, Setsunan University
2-14-22-18 Shimanouchi, Chuo-ku Osaka 542 Japan
tel (06)212-1830 fax (06)211-3244 email@example.com
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Sven Serrano) Newsgroups: alt.slack Subject: A SubGenius in Cambodia - Part 3 Date: Mon, 10 Mar 1997 03:48:50 GMT Organization: Setsunan University Message-ID: <email@example.com>
Sihanoukville, also known as the port of Kompong Som, appears on the map, but it lies somewhere in the imagination, on a coastline the world has forgotten. Only a small trickle of tourists and off-duty NGOs make the four-hour bus trip, which despite the guide books' warnings, is now completely safe The town lies in a small valley and beyond a few low lying hills are five different beaches and a busy lmedium-sized port. The view from the Mealy Chenda guesthouse balcony looks down on a clump of palm trees obscuring the masts of the waiting freighters, a view which looks more Central American than Asian. "Sihanoukville?," I thought, nursing a glass of Coke and Mekhong Whiskey on my first afternoon,"It looks more like Duvalierville." I could imagine Graham Greene in a white jacket and a panama hat walking up the abandoned boulevard to the sailors' brothels north of the port.
I hiked across the beach rocks (using another piece of essential equipment - a pair of Nike Reef Walkers, rubber swimming shoes that give your feet frog/amphibian footing) to the next two beaches, ending up at Independence Beach. Standing there, overlooking the coast is the seven story Independence Hotel, an edifice inhabited by one caretaker, some squatters, perhaps one guest, and the ghosts. The empty ball room echoes Cambodian lounge music and crush of rustling tafetta. Down at the beach, there are chairs, umbrellas and drink vendors, but only a handful of sunbathers, mostly Cambodians on Sundays. The water is warm and clear and I spend several slackful afternoons here, blissfully alone. But I came to snorkel and dive as well and after a few days I go off in seach of the one dive shop in town.
It is in Pet's Place, the one Australian bar in town, that I learn that Steve, the owner of Condor Dive and Survey, is busy all this month on a salvage operation. But it is there that I meet John-John, the Jack-the-Lad of Sihanoukville. "Sure, mate, I can help you go snorkeling," he said in strong austalian accent. Mistaking him for an Indian, I discover John-John is a Khmer who grew up in Australia. Over beers he tells me about his father is a major official in the Foreign Ministry, partying in Australia's rave scene, and how the family decided to move back to Cambodia in 1993. "But I've had with this country. Do you think I could get a job in Japan? How easy are Japanese girls." His eye suddenly blinks and his head whips back in a split-second spasm which he tries to cover up as if nothing has happened. One too many Es.
So the truth is now obvious. John-John is completely broke. He explains that his father is one of those incorruptible bureaucrats who does not accept bribes and who does not distribute the wealth to his offspring. He is what the Yiddish call a 'Luftmensch,' a guy who lives off the air, with no viable means of support. I pay the bill, no problem. John-John later shows up at my guest house, with the purpose of sneaking into one of the empty bunks. He jovially entertains the other guests with boogieman stories of the Khmer Rouge and cadges them for drinks. But it turns out I have a project in mind for John-John.
In my Lonely Planet Guidebook is a short description of what was once the premier secoast resort town of Cambodia, a place 120 kilometers to the Southeast in Kampot province called Kep. Known as Kep-sur-Mer, it was where the French and the francophone IndoChinese elite started building their villas in the 1930s. A mini-Riviera, the haute bourgeoisie elite enjoyed the famous seafood and sun, as well as swimming, yachting, soirees and gambling in the one casino. Then it all came down in 1975. As the guidebook reads "Under the Khmer Rouge, the town and its many villas were completely destroyed - not neglected and left to decay but intentionally turned intor utter ruins. The KRs also turned the underground petrol tank of the the old Shell station into a mass grave. By 1979, not a single building remained intact in Kep." Such a place I HAD to see for myself. Other travellers in I talked to in Phnom Penh had made the day trip and then stayed the night in Kampot. Another attraction nearby is the hill station at Bokor, which my guidebook wrote off as dangerous for foreigners. I told my plan to John-John and offered him $15 a day as guide and driver.
A little political instability proceeded our departure in Sville. On Thursday, Feb 19, responding to tension in other parts of the country, the various police and army units, all affiliated with either the FUNCINPEC Royalist Party and the former Vietnamese-backed People's Party decided to show their colors to each other. "You've got guns, we've got guns. Do you see our guns? We see yours." Trucks of troops with RPG-7 rocket launchers drove past police HQ as the cops cleaned their heavy maching guns on the front lawn. I remarked on this later to a local resident at the Angkor Arms. "Yeah," he shrugged "happens once a month."
On Friday morning we were off. But our departure at 6:30 a.m. had a little local color as the Vietnamese whore John-John had snuck into his bunk wanted more money. She followed us, cursing as we jumped onto a moto. A taste of things to come.
At the Sville market John-John negotiated passage in a Cambodian taxi to Kompot, 7 people crammed into an old Corolla. I remember the feeling of dread as we turned off of the main highway to Phnom Penh and started down the worst road I had ever seen in the 3rd world. Red packed earth, pocked with bomb-sized craters, klick after klick of bumps and bounces. And at each bridge a gaggle of obviously under-paid soldiers glaring and kicking the dust. Fourteen times the driver slowed and dropped a payoff of 400-500 riel. John-John told me to keep my head down. No problem.
At the border of Kompot province, a major checkpoint. The soldier looked at John-John's long hair and earring. "Where are you from?" "I'm a Khmer," replied my guide. "Oh no you're not." and both of us were ordered over to the guardhouse while the other cab passengers marinated in the sun. My passport got me through but John-John without either an ID card or his Australian passport was in big trouble. "I'll make it cheap for you - 100000 riel" said the head honcho, a mandarin looking officer with a big black mole on his cheek with a long hair sticking out. They both haggled for almost half an hour while I distributed all of my cigarettes to the curious troops. I pulled out my wallet and gestured to John-John, "how much is this really going to cost?" Suddenly it was all over wnd we were back in the cab. "What happened?" I asked. "Sorry mate, I had to wait until the right moment to tell him who my father was. He didn't believe me so I gave him his number and told him to call." What doubt I had I in his story disappeared as we headed off, under the watchful gaze of the 1,800 ridge of Bokor Mountain.
In Kompot things got hairier. The gang of moto-drivers, the only people we could rent a motorbike from, were run by an off-duty cop. "Sure, we'll rent you a bike, but two of us have to follow you and make sure it doesn't get stolen." It was the only deal in town so we took it for $14. Immediately we impressed them when I fell off of the end of the bike while John-John was trying to park at a restaurant for lunch. The license plate was nicely cracked, put it on the bill. They set us up in a decent hotel by the river and while we were getting ready in our new room I taped a Dobbshead to the wall. John-John's eyes widened. "I'll explain it to you later," I said hurrying with my camera and film. Finally, with the cop, now changed into his uniform top and cap, we set off down the road to the once-fabled resort of Kep.
When we reached the outskirts the cop and his buddy started pointing out the ruined villas, stark concrete frames against the sun, with John-John translating "There's Air Force General's home, where he used to land his helicopter on the roof. There's the famous singer's place. There's the villa of one of his mistresses." We reached the short black sand beach, which I knew from a amazing bit of optimism, a current postage stamp with the legend 'Plage Kep-Tourism.' At a seaside stand we feasted on some of the famous crabs with hot sauce, washed down with more Tiger beer. Then we went about exploring the villas. The guide book was wrong, it seemed. The KRs killed the rich and their servants but left the homes alone. It wasn't until the Vietnamese come in 1979 did the destruction, sparked by rumors that the rich had hidden gold in the walls and floors. Beautiful homes, with patioed driveways where the servants must have lined up when the Monsieur and the Madame arrived in their Citroen, now gone to ruin. In many places the jungle had taken over. You could feel the presence of the ghosts everywhere. The most amazing sight was the old casino, now taken over by the grottiest market I had seen in Cambodia. Under an old rotunda, now open to the sky, in the very place where the roulette wheel must have been, an old woman was cutting a small dogfish shark in half, one hand holding the knife while the other shooed away the curs and the flys. Amazing. Like visiting the ruins of Disneyland, now inhabited by squatters.
We left Kep at 4 pm and made the run back to Kampot where more adventure awaited. The cop and his buddy dropped us off at the hotel and promised to return at 7 and show us around the town. Alone in our room, John-John asked me about the Dobbshead. I took out one of the remaining copies of the #2 Screed & membership application and said to him, in my very best Elmer Fudd voice, "Dis is a vewy, vewy impotant pampwet. I want you to weed do hoa ting,." John-John dug in and was soon getting clued in on the major tenets of our faith. After an hour or so, the cop and his bud were there, with an extra friend who wanted to meet the foreigner. I knew what was in store. "Look John-John," I said my instinct is to lock the door and hide under the bed until morning. But I am going to go out and party with the cops tonight in Kampot! Do you know why?" He shook his head. I point swiftly at the Dobbshead on the wall and said "BECAUSE 'BOB' TELLS ME TOO! My religion gives me courage! What does this tell you???" John-John was visibly impressed. Then we went out to start one of the wilder nights of my life.
to be continued...
Shining Path of Least Resistance
SubGenius Ministries for all of Western Japan
2-14-22-18 Shimanouchi, Chuo-ku Osaka Japan 542
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Sven Serrano) Newsgroups: alt.slack Subject: A SubGenius in Cambodia - Part 4 Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 07:44:38 GMT Organization: Setsunan University Message-ID: <email@example.com>
Saturday night in Kampot, Cambodia began with our three motos zooming off into the darkness. John-John was riding the cop's motorbike, blowing a stick of false frop, and trying to pop wheelies. When he spoke in Khmer with our local hosts I could tell he was blowing a lot of 'I'm cooler than you attitude' which was in turn bringing out more than a little 'we'll show you city slickers' feeling in them. I crossed my fingers as we turned down a darkened to street to what our friends promised us was a 'cheap restaurant.'
This place had what is standard equipment for most Cambodian restaurants since 1991; 'beer girls.' One girl, clad in a distintive uniform dress (sometimes with a beauty contest style embroidered band), represents a specific brand of beer. When you order a beer, the idea is that you stay with it all night and this girl serves you. Switching brands would cause an extreme loss of face (or a Cambodian catfight) so you don't do it. Our restaurant had two girls in white representing the Belgian Stella Artois brand and one lovely but chubby one plugging the unknown Eagle Stout. We ordered Stellas for our crew and I asked for a simple noodle soup. John-John ordered in Khmer and a few minutes later a plate of roasted meat showed up, along with my noodles. "What is it?" I asked naively. "Deer meat!" came the translation.
Mindful of my funds (but knowing that I had an emergency 3000 Baht in Thai currency in my smugglers belt) I tried to keep on eye on our consumption. I heard six can tops pop in total while the Miss Stellas worked on us. Miss Eagle Stout was also giving us the eye, even though we had not chosen her brand. Cop and his two buddies were having a whale of a time. I could easily read their minds. "A foreigner staying overnight in Kampot? This is too good to be true!" Then they started egging us on about the girls "Which one do you like? Which one do you like?" they chorused. In some cases the beer companies openly tell the beer girls that its OK to go home with a customer as this builds product loyalty. Others are straight out hookers in disguise. John-John immediately picked out the cutest Stella girl and, just to be sociable, I said I liked Eagle Stout. They sat down with us for a round of leering snapshots. Then the bill, a whopping (for Cambodia) $20. "You guys drank 13 beers! We never stopped pouring!"cried the girls And they pointed at the adjacent table full of empties. We plea bargained them down to 10 beers. I warned John-John that at this rate we wouldn't get through the night. "Don't wrorry mate, the cops promised they would help pay for the next round and the night club." I smiled and passed out cigarettes to the whole shit-eating grinning crew.
Next step was a full fledged Cambodian floor-show dance restaurant, the kind where the soldiers have to check their weapons at the door. Inside was a live band, electric guitars, organs and brass with a couple of lounge singers. A big dance floor and roving taxi dancers. Cop nearly went crazy when I suggested whiskey, but when I was told only Johnny Walker was available (I wanted Mekhong) I chose San Miguels. The band cranked into gear as the local Kampotions began to boogie. Live music in Cabodia had improved remarkable, I was told, now that musicians who had lived abroad in Europe and the States had returned home. "In the Summertime, when the weather is fine..." The cover hits rained down and the empties piled up.
A handsome squaddie in camoflage walked and belted out a lounge hit in Khmer. Then a mama-san offered me the company of a stunning young Khmer woman in a long silver sequined dress. She had jet black hair, a beautiful neck and an almost Mayan nose. I asked her name in my flawed Khmer and she told me "Jerrup." "Wow, a Babylonian name," I thought. I was in love. I tried to behave like a perfect gentleman and after each dance I politely held her chair for her. The cop and crew were whistling at me, but John-John had disappeared. Out on the dance floor the Kampotions were doing a loud circle dance; two steps forward, one step back. A older drunk Khmer came over and shouted something in my face and cop and company quickly manhandled him away. Things were getting a little intense. Cop and crew went to dance and Jerrup went to the toilet, leaving me alone with the bill. "Get to work" I thought. I went up to the cashier alone and unfolded the note. I had visions of us spending the next night week in the Kampot calaboose, trying to contact my embassy. $36. I breathed a sigh of relief. 1000 Baht would cover this hurdle. But the night wasn't over yet.
When John-John reappeared I told him that the bill was taken care of. "Well, you want to take her back to the hotel?" he asked me, looking at the smiling Jerrup. "There's a sign on the wall in our room" I recalled, "No prostitutes." "Looks like we're going to break that one eh, mate?" John-John laughed and motioned for the mama-san to provide him with some company. What could I say, I was in love. But out in front it turned out another scenario was already planned. Jerrup said to me in Franco-Khmer "knyom malade" (I am sick) and excused herself forever. Then I turned around and there was Miss Eagle Stout, standing next to the grinning cop. John-John put me on a moto with her (the bike sagging under the weight) and said "I'll give you an hour head start." Then the cop shouted in my year "Forty! Forty!" as the driver sped off.
I undressed under the mosquito net as Miss Eagle showered in the adjacent bathroom. Ever curious, I tip toed over and peeked in the door. She was't Miss Eagle Stout for nothing, a real handful, like one of my ex-wives. Jerrup she was not. I went back, resigned to my fate remembering the maxim "We're being screwed over every day. SOME WAYS ARE FUN!" I was just was beginning to attempt the old USAF mid-air refueling maneuver from the Dr. Strangelove film when John-John burst in. He had had only given me 20 minutes and he was accompanied by not one BUT TWO GIRLS. After a few minutes the room was engulfed in loud Khmer bickering. "What the fuck is wrong???" I asked, now distracted from Miss Eagle's attentions. "Ahhhh, mate, it's this other one, she said she liked threesomes but she changed her mind." This went on in Khmer for almost two hours, with me angrily warning them repeatedly not to get the management or the other guests involved. Finally the angry one stamped out and I could settle on just snuggling up next to Miss Eagle's porcine warmth and going to sleep.
The cop's moto woke us up at half past seven. The girls got dressed and went out to chat with him on how the night had gone, leaving me alone with John-John. "Mate, " I asked him, looking at the unopened condom I had left for him on the endtable "how long have you been having exciting, unsafe sex in Cambodia?" "Hey, I try," he shrugged, lighting a cigarette. We grabbed all of our gear, checked out, and the entire crew rallied at the breakfast-lunch place in the center of Kampot, where we had broken the license plate. Over excellent coffee and Chinese donuts we worked out our bill with the girls. The cop and Miss Eagle pouted when I said "Twenty" but a fair price is a fair price and the funds were accepted. She waddled off but Miss Stella decided to hang around "So we get out of Dodge now?" I asked John-John. "Don't you remember?" " Remember what?" "Since you insisted on paying the bill last night (yeah, right) the cop said he and his friend would take us up to the Bokor hill station waterfall for free."
Bokor is a place of magnificent natural beauty, a Cambodian mini-Yosemite, but it lies in Indian territory. Last year, a column of Khmer Rouge came down from the mountain top, robbed and kidnapped 30 Cambodians day-trippers from Phnom Penh, and blew up 10 cars with rockets. Just for fun. I said in a loud voice to no one in particular "If I am kidnapped, no one is going to pay my ransom..." But once we got there everything went just fine. John-John brought his girl along and we swam in the rapids while the cops started pounding Angkor Stouts, using the profits they had made off of me from the previous night. John-John was especially enthralled by the underwater throwaway camera I had brought and insisted on getting a shot of himself meditating under the water. Around noon we dropped off Miss Stella and headed to the taxi stand.A brief shouting developed between the cop and John-John but I had seen this coming and I quickly settled the argument with 20000 Riel and a hug from our cop, who was genuinely sad to see us go. "Just get me out of this town alive, John-John," I snarled edgily as I counted out $12, the last ouf our money. "I'll help you if you make it in Japan, just get me out of here." But John-John was not at all optimistic about our chances. "We still have to get past that check point again mate." GROAN.
John-John had done his duty and earned his wages. He had gotten me into trouble and out of it, but just barely. "Bob" had done the rest. But how were we going to get him past that check point? We found a cab for Sihanoukville but the driver wouldn't budge until he had more passengers. We then noticed on older buddhist priest in bright orange robes standing near the cab. He returned our glance and spoke to John-John. "He says he's 1000 Riel short for the trip and would we help?" "Sure!!!" I said, "We can use Buddha on this run!" John-John got in between the priest and I as the cab filled up with four more peasants and a gaggle of bound live ducks and chickens. John-John motioned for the money and I threw in an extra 1000 riel for good measure. John-John waied to the priest and, held the money in his praying hands for moment and it was accepted with a humble bow. Then they talked for while in Khmer as the driver finally began to warm up the engine. Then at around 1 p.m. we bid Kampot au revoir.
"I asked the priest about the meaning of a dream I had last night" John-John told me. "What about?""I dreamed I was in a car and bright white light came through the windshield." "What did the priest say?" I asked. "He said not to worry, that I was riding with a powerful god." I smiled and pointed to my "Bob" pin. "You are. With "Bob" and Buddha on board you can't lose." John-John just stared ahead. The road was just as bad as we remembered it. John-John told one more story about how when the soldiers get drunk in the late afternoon and they really want a payoff, they just lay out a few land mines. Silence followed as we rolled under the gloomy green heights of Bokor. We came to a halt half way across a major bridge. A car had blown a tire, blocking the entire bridge. If we couldn't get through before dusk we would have to turn back, now.
When I tried to get out to stretch my cramped legs, John-John angrily grabbed my shoulder and pointed at the curious ragged soldiers stooped by the stalled car, AKs dangling from their shoulders. "Fuck it" I said and stepped out for a smoke. The river rolled beneath the bridge as the afternoon sun beat down. I sadly thought if I didn't make it back I would NEVER get to post the whole story of my trip on alt.slack (no lie G.I.!!!) Then the car in front sputtered into life. We were on the move again. John-John and I covered our faces with our Khmer scarves and tried to get some Zs before the first shakedown.
An hour later our car suddenly turned onto the main highway. We woke up in a daze. "What happened? Why weren't there any checkpoints?" A miracle had occured. The car had zoomed bast all the payoff points because the soldiers had temporarily all abandoned their posts. The driver said that he had seen the troops at the main provincial checkpoint PLAYING VOLLEYBALL. We were ordered to switch cars and the Buddhist priest disappeared. "Mate, were going to drink a few bottles of whiskey back at the guest house tonight!" John-john whooped. I looked down at my chest and saw the Dobbshead grinning back up at me. With my last $10 I was miraculously able to pay off the taxi fare at the end of the day.
Back at Mealy Chenda's in Sihanoukville we regaled our fellow guests with our adventure tales. I paid John-John's bill of $20 at the guest house (he would run up a tab in food even when broke) and gave him and extra ten for a half days work at Bokor. "Look," I said to him "read the phamplet. As SubGenii we learn how to make money off of the normals. I'll even point out the easy marks. "Bob" was with you on the road from Kompot. He protected you, like the Buddhist priest prophesied. But now "Bob" is away on a business trip." I only saw him intermittently over the next few days while I romanced a Japanese hippie girl named Yoshimi. She was great until she fainted one evening in the restaurant and knocked out all her four front teeth.
The next morning John-John showed up and said "Mate, I need $5 to get back to Phnom Penh." By now our lad really had worn out his welcome with everyone except me. I remembered what a fuck-up I had been at 23. I asked him to provide me with a secure address in Phnom Penh so I could send him stuff and he said grimly that he would try. I gave him the money, a Dobbshead, a copy of the Media Pollution cassette tape and an old Soviet Army watch I had been saving in case I needed to barter my way out of a corner. And I gave him one last tip. "'Bob' came to me in a dream last night. He told me a way you can make money. Find a foreigner in Phnom Penh who can draw well. Then both of you go back down to Kep and make a map of all the ruined villas. Call it 'Homes of the Dead and Famous.' You'll make a mint." His eyes lit up and he thanked me and you-know-who. I deputized him on the spot and sent him on his way. And that was the last I saw of John-John.
End of Part 4. A post script will follow to end the series.
Shining Path of Least Resistance
SubGenius Ministries for all of Western Japan
2-14-22-18 Shimanouchi, Chuo-ku Osaka Japan 542
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Sven Serrano) Newsgroups: alt.slack Subject: A SubGenius in Cambodia - Postscript Date: Thu, 13 Mar 1997 02:36:14 GMT Organization: Setsunan University Lines: 44 Message-ID: <email@example.com>
I made it back to Phnom Penh to do a little 'mopping up' before heading home to NE Asia. This included buying a few wierd souvenirs (Cambodian perfume, a hammock, cigs), visiting Kilo 11 and No. 45 one last time to give away copies of the snapshots, and hit a few of the bars I missed on the first visit. The news was hilarious as usual - King Sihanouk had threatened to abdicate again, saying that all his life he had never really wanted to be King anyway, but the two Vice Prime Ministers from the two bickering political parties had to talk him out of it.
I wondered about John-John. He had said he would get a haircut, lose his earring, and try to get a job again. Was his father really in the Foreign Ministry? Could he get his act together and work out a regular meal ticket, or was he doomed? "Well, we're all doomed - except for those of us who get on the saucers on X-Day," I said to myself. If he could get an address to me I vowed to send him some of the valuable crap that Japanese routinely throw away. I could also get his address out on the Net and make him a charity poster boy (You can help John-John, or you can turn the page). Still, my best wishes went with him. He was a crazy guy in an amazing country and we had shared that wild time together in Kep/Kampot.
At the Royale Air Cambodge office I got a nasty shock. There were no seats on any flights to Bangkok that weekend. Some Thai holiday or something. As my connection was out of Bangkok and I HAD to be back in Japan on Monday I was frantic. The only options were to do a runner up Route 5 To Battambang and the Thai border through bandit country or to go back down to Sihanoukville and jump a smugglers boat to the Thai coast. But I had less than 72 hours. What to do? I went back and looked at the schedule. Wait! What was this, a flight that evening to MALAYSIA??? THE HOME OF DOBBSTOWN??? A few seats were left so I handed over the money and got my ticket on the spot. I would fly to Kuala Lumpur that night, make connections with the Butterworth/Penang train for Bangkok, and at the 3 hour stop at Bugit Makkassar I could make a quick afternoon visit to the fabled Dobbs Ashram. I went back to the hotel, struck camp, put on my pack and my jaunty legionnaires cap, and jumped a moto to the airport. The rest, well... that's another story...
Shining Path of Least Resistance
SubGenius Ministries for all of Western Japan
2-14-22-18 Shimanouchi, Chuo-ku Osaka Japan 542