Two million foreign visitors visit the thousand year old Angkor temples in Cambodia a year. The nearest town, Siem Reap, once a quaint colonial French backwater, is now a tourist ghetto with more than 700 hotels, a town dedicated to the US dollar where Cambodia’s brutal poverty, corruption and impunity are barely visible to the casual observer – and let’s face it, from the tourists to the US and Chinese governments, to the EU and the UN, observers outdo each other in casualness when it comes to everyone’s quiet support of one of Asia’s best-running kleptocracies.
The tourists come to blankly stare at history, ignore the unpalatable present and engage in communal bad taste, purchasing Orientalist crap in countless souvenir shops. Crocodile leather is all the rage. A wallet doesn’t come cheap at around US$200, but for those who have got it all already….
CAMBODIA // AUGUST 2016
Most people in Asia don’t give much of a fuck about animal welfare. Notable exceptions are some ethnic minorities in India. Of course, the Hindus love their cows but that’s mostly religion and politics and India had more vegetarians than the rest of the world put together..
But outside the Indian subcontinent, vegetarianism is rare; only Taiwan has a large vegetarian minority. Animals are there to be eaten or to be pulverized into medicine. Before they are consumed, they are either caught in the wild or bred on farms and in factories, transported and killed as cheaply as possible.
One day they will fight back.
CAMBODIA // MARCH 2014