3 months ago today, I packed up my belongings, said goodbye to my friends, home, and an affectionate cat called Sophia, and left Thailand. I had been living there for a year but my visa was about to expire and I had a book to write. Cambodia was calling.
Seven years ago, I moved to Cambodia to run an Irish pub in a town called Sihanoukville. An unfortunately personal tragedy caused that experiment to end after about thirteen months, but I never lost my love for the country. There is something about Cambodia that draws me back again and again… even now it is haunted by the most awful of memories.
This time around, I decided to give Kampot a try. Sihanoukville was destroyed by the Chinese shortly after I left. They invaded, kicked out the locals and the foreigners, and turned it into another disgusting province of the motherland. I had the misfortune of returning twice to see the devastation these people inflicted. It was truly horrifying.
Anyway, they have not yet made it far enough along the coast to launch an assault on Kampot. Aside from a few obnoxious building projects, there is minimal Chinese influence here.
I left Thailand on 18th March and arrived in Phnom Penh a few hours later. After a white-knuckle bus ride to Kampot, I spent a week shifting from one guesthouse to the next until I settled at a place called Baraca for a month. After that, I moved out of town to a Cham village (that’s a Muslim settlement) to the south of town. It is a peaceful place in the countryside, with red dirt roads, aggressive street mutts, friendly local people, a smattering of little tin shack shops with orange coolers out front, and it was a minute or so from the river.
For my first two months, I wrote from 6am to 6pm every day, exhausting myself with work on a book about Hunter S. Thompson. The first month was a frenzy of writing – 100,000 words, give or take. After that, it slowed and slowed, and when I finally got to editing, it slowed to a crawl.
The book is – thank god – finished but will require more editing in the future. It feels good to be done with it, but of course there is always more. I have a company to look after and other writing/editing projects. I keep busy.
There has been little time for photography, but I shot some photos on my daily walks through the surrounding area:
Last week, I found a house that I really liked and signed a contract for a one-year lease. (Pics coming later.)
Now that the book is finished and I have a place to stay, I look forward to exploring more of one of my favourite countries. I hope to fit in plenty of long road trips and get back to taking more photos.