Beauty and the Beasts

Angkor Wat

Greetings from Phnom Penh. The only city in the world where having a hare-lip helps in its pronunciation. So have a drink,

Cobra and Scorpion Flavoured Whiskey

maybe another and hold on to your hats; this is going to be another one of those.

So, in the white corner, Angkor Wat and a bunch of other Wats. About 60 of them in the dark corner.

In the other corner, wearing all black are the Khmer Rouge.

And so begins the story.

Only a day or so ago Lori and I were ambling through a whole bunch of old and really spectacular buildings. Admiring both sculptural and spiritual sensitivity that abounded.

Sandstone Temple
Greater detail

So we’ve all seen pics of this stuff but the magnitude and scale of the detail blows your mind. (Try saying that in Sanskrit). Start with them being close to a thousand years old and let’s go from there. As mentioned in a previous posting, Hinduism and Buddhism ping-ponged (hi O.H.) back and forth in the same buildings for years scrapping each other’s gods and replacing their own

Stegosaurus in a 16th Century Temple!?! WTF?
Monkeys are Considered Deities in Hinduism
until the rent came due and the two switched off again. That is to say, they have managed to synergize the best that Hinduism and Buddhism have to offer and have mutually profited, more or less, most of the time, particularly as compared with the rest of the planet. But don’t worry, we will get there soon.

But for now let’s say that things are chill. Spoiler alert – Vietnam. So who has been pulling the levers behind what’s going down in South East Asia (SEA)? You may automatically think China. And you’d be right. But this story is about the #2 man in SEA. And he goes by the name of North Viet Nam (under the alias of The Democratic Republic of Vietnam).

So we all grew up (well many of my guys, anyway) sort of thinking that the Vietnam War was not too cool a thing. And we were so right on so many levels it was ridiculous. But there was one sticker that screwed up the equation pretty good. What happened in SEA, pretty well as soon as the French left in the mid-50’s? The Vietnamese went out on another of their many crusades (for lack of a better word), and have been on a campaign to [re]capture land. In much the same way that Putin picked up Crimea, but the VC (for lack of a better name) are much better at it than Vlad, having, in the past century or two, physically overtaken Champa province, previously a state of Cambodia which is what we now call South Vietnam as well as the Mekong River Delta, which wasn’t part of the original kingdom. There are many complexities growing together in the South East Asia story. Similar to the roots of the tree below guarding a temple. Angelina Jolie did a damned convincing job as Laura Croft as she dashed through this very one.

What the Viets haven’t grabbed physically, they’ve grabbed financially. Now that we have safely left Laos, to the amazement of some, I can say without fear of endangering anyone, in particular myself, that Laos is unequivocally an absolute puppet state of Vietnam.

Cambodian’s ownership of capital within its own borders is negligible when compared to the wealth owned and operated by the Vietnamese, extending their financial hegemony.

The extent of political corruption and graft is at a level that would send even the most mild mannered North American into the streets. Shift gears here. So – the horrendous lifestyle comparisons between haves and nots from the years predating the Khmer Rouge; could they mirror the conditions seen today under the influence of the Viets? I must say conditions are pretty horrendous for the average Jose. 30-40 % unemployment in the towns and double that for the 80 plus % of the peeps who are farmers. The conditions contained within the cities that Lori and I have visited are rife for Revolution. Take it from one who has, for reasons beyond my comprehension, and certainly not of my responsibility, seen enough of these political makeovers up close and personal. The intertwining between politics and royalty and religion here give credence to the fact that we are in a third world country. At the moment, our host country, Cambodia (Oh, Cambodia such fond and not too vivid memories of days gone by), has a King who is a lame duck.

Nice Digs for a Lame Duck
Another Part of the Royal Palace

How lame, you say? The existing King is 63. That makes him, both of us actually, onto the good side of the life expectancy table in Cambodia. That said, he is the last of the line, for all intents and purposes. 63, never married, never dated. My guess – he’s some gay guy who never got to get out. Imagine being King, and take it from me – they live good, and not to be able to come out? You’d figure if anybody, in the whole fucking country could pull it off, it’s Kingy! Call Groucho, soup’s on.

To get down to brass tacks, the old King is buddies with China. The Premier sleeps with Vietnam. So you can bet your bottom US$, which they so much love getting their hands on here, that when the king either dies or gets outed, that ‘Nam is on their front doorstep the following day, knocking in an even greater capacity, which is already at unimaginable levels. So the whole peninsula becomes another round in the history books. I won’t even mention in my Khmer stories to come the fact that as crazy as those Khmer commies were, they were true to their egalitarian roots. After ransacking, torturing, and murdering any professional, high ranking soldier, business person, teacher, nurse, monk,

Killing Tree on the Left. Mass Mothers and Children’s Grave on Right.

and then getting their hands on the family jewels, the Khmer put their stash in storehouses (not the same ones they used to keep the soon to be bodies in), and to their credit, they never touched a sou. The methodology was precise, extract a confession through torture, create a written record of the victim (age, sex, marital status, crime, etc.) and ship them too the killing fields to finish them off. The Khmer took particular pleasure in torturing and killing children in front of their parents. Babies were grabbed by their feet and had their heads dashed against ‘the killing tree’. The the mother, who had by this time been raped in jail after having her fingernails pulled out and alcohol applied to the open wound, followed by have Ng her nipples cut off, then beaten with electric cables, had her skull staved in by an iron or Woden club. This final act was completed beside a pit adjacent to the killing tree. When the mother finally and mercifully met her end, she was thrown into the pit, the remains of her baby was thrown in too.

As recently as yesterday, when touring the killing fields, pieces of cloth belonging to the victims, as well as an occasional bone, pushes up through the ground.

The Vietnamese, on the other hand, were at war with Cambodia; that’d been going on more or less from mid 1977 through the end of 1991. Eventually Vietnam won out, ransacked the country and picked up the jewels, wealth, etc, of the Killing Fields’ victims and ran off with the loot. Vietnam controls the business sectors and the politicians of this country. To call it a proxy state would only happen because I’m not sure whether there are one or two p’s, or more precisely 2 or 3 p’s, in puppet. I didn’t mention either that Vietnam backed, funded, armed, and manned the Khmer Rouge who destroyed their opponents who America had been supporting since the first advisors showed up in 1950 under the stewardship of Harry S. The debacle began April, 1975 and the KR captured Phnom Penh two weeks prior to the Americans helicoptering off. The roof in Saigon. And once satisfied that their proxy state Cambodia did all the dirty work effectively dismantling the country, it’s future and its infrastructure,

the Vietnamese switched sides, three years into the gig. So the Viets wiped out the Khmer, who wiped out the intelligentsia, who enslaved the poor, who wanted back at the rich, and got their way. Now Nam owns the show. Don’t bet against a repeat performance.

We regret to have to inform you. Wish, Pray or Act for Peace.



  • Unknown
    Posted at 20:53h, 15 January Reply

    I hear the Pho Ga is pretty good.
    PS Keep it up Bruce, great stuff!

  • Bruce Burnett
    Posted at 05:01h, 16 January Reply

    Gloria makes better chicken noodle soup than these guys. Were she to get wind that i ate someone else's and enjoyed it more, the treatment I'd recieve from her would make me yearn for the Killing Fields.

Post A Comment