KTV Karaoke cum brothel entertainment gulag in Siem Reap, Cambodia
CAMBODIA // MAY 2017
A cheerful visit to the White Temple as a good reminder of our miserable mortality. National artist Chalermchai Kositpipat expects this giant life-project to be finished in 2070. Stay tuned.
THAILAND // JANUARY 2016
Bums on seats – the vacuous beauty of mass tourism in Siem Reap.
CAMBODIA // OCTOBER 2016
This morning, while I was having breakfast, I watched a wasted, middle aged sex worker cough up her last customer’s effluent into the unforgiving street. I’m in Pattaya, possibly the ugliest, nastiest, most unfriendly, most cut throat and depressingly exploitative place I have ever been to…and I have been to a few horrible places in this life.
The resident and visiting Farang and Thais are uniformly nasty and the whole city stinks of rip-offs, abuse and tragedy.
Forget all the bla-bla about the place being a family destination. It’s a gigantic, tired whorehouse, a sex factory for old men without love, for emotional cripples and viagra-popping criminals from around the world, who should all be dead but are somehow clinging on to what can’t really be called life.
That’s a celebration of sorts of course, and places like Pattaya must exist somewhere other than just in our psyche, if for no other reason than to tell us clearly that there’s no hope for us. Pattaya is an American creation, a side-effect of our once desperate fight against the evils of communism, but it’s wholeheartedly Thai, because the Thais in charge of the place simply don’t care about anything other than making money, no matter now debased the method.
And while there’s nothing to look at, there’s plenty to see.
From morning to morning, a haze of mediocracy hangs above the city, an insipid film of average – best reflected in the prevalence of Hitler T-Shirts and other Nazi memorabilia in the city’s markets, the minute, dirty beach populated by hustlers, the overpriced restaurants selling Thai food that tastes like garbage, the piss awful cover bands on Walking Street that churn out uninspired, hollow rock standards to hundreds of drunken degenerates, the mean, beady eyes of white men that poke out of decrepit sports bars and follow passers-by like persistent venereal diseases, the incredible cacophony of terrible tattoos displayed on wilting flesh, and the thousands of burnt out and beaten women along the riverfront who are waiting to open their legs, mouths and asses for less than 50 bucks.
Welcome to Thailand, amigos. It’s a lot to swallow.
THAILAND // FEBRUARY 2015
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
Spiritually refreshing to see a ghost doing a Gary Oldman impression inside Angkor Wat amidst thousands of selfie stick wielding, golf visor wearing Chinese package tourists, digitally overfed suburban backpackers in $2 elephant pants, Buddhist monks from around the region armed with tablets and pretending to meditate, and American physics teachers looking to use their moral guidance to help underage girls grow up.
CAMBODIA // JULY 2014