Sunday, 29 November 2009

An official invitation to the eighteenth birthday celebrations of the hair dresser's daughter.

So it was big news down the lakeside. The party was tonight. Slightly
bigger news for me is that I'd be informed during the previous few
days that I was to be officially invited.

My first Cambodian social function.
To be fair the party was planned to take place out in the street
in front of Nam's bar so attendance would probably have been
But this time I was handed a personal invitation with my actual Barang
name on it. Spelled correctly, (take note promoters all it takes is a
decent researcher).

Anyway the small highly patterned envelope I'd been given signified 2
things. Acceptance and obligation.

Obligation is maybe too stronger word, but I'd seen these envelopes
before and I knew that not everybody got them.
I also knew that those that did, had to repay the respect shown by our
neighbors in the form of a cash sum that must be placed in the
returned envelope.

So basically being invited could be expensive but food and drinks all
free so get yu moneys worth.

And so the community set up for the party. A sequence of events that
featured a really beautiful moment.

Picture the scene.
A small child stands in the middle of the main drag of lakeside
ghetto. The child's left hand grips his mothers skirt the right grasps
handfull of air in a failed attempt at plucking a balloon from the
festive grape-vine hanging across the street.

Having spotted the child's near distress, Rosso (a man who only one
week ago had stubbed another man in the face with the bottom of a
whisky bottle), leaped into action. In one movement Rosso pulled
himself up the side of the bar's front shutters. Pulled a flick-knife
from his pocket, opened the blade, grabbed a balloon and with an
upwards stabbing motion freed it from the vine. By the time his feet
touched ground the knife had vanished. As he handed the balloon to the
child a smile of genuine kindness cracked across his hardened face.
The child's mother gently bowed, Rosso returned it and swaggered away
back towards his speakers.
The very picture of masculinity.

Anyway I spent a wile asking and deliberating about how much money to
put in the envelope and settled on $5. Ano who works in my guest
house said I was a stingy bastard and it's her 18th so I ended up
putting in ten.

Also having taken a lot of photos I gave my camera to a young Khmer
boy and to Phnom Penh's only female Motodot, to get a bit of guest
blogger snaps action.

Sent from my iPod

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

cambo photo set 9

Graffiti then

So what with me getting back on the horse, (metaphorically, I'm not on smack or a cowboy).

We figured it was time the old FYS started reppin in Phnom Penh.

So we painted inside Nam's bar.

Big V started the ball rolling, I missed the claim on space below that involved negotiating an ill placed fan.

So I went for an awkward corner space with the idea that I'd paint across 2 walls and a bit of ceiling.

The others said it was a bit ambitious, but then what's life without ambition.

Any way, via an undisclosed contact V pulled in a right rickety looking A-frame ladder with bent up cross bars.

First test was shakey but once I'd secured the cross sections with a few bits of ripped up plastic bag it was a lot more stable.

By the time we were one and a half hours in and had just started brushing on my outline, the top of the ladder was my home.

Venks refused to compromise his integrity and outlined in with this crazy, fast, runny, old-fashioned motorbike paint.

Respect due to him he pulled it off about a thousand times better than I think I'd have been able to.

We're talking about one big power-line around the edge and that might happen today but you get the basic gist of what's going on eh.




0116/FYS Crew

Free for a price.

I thought I'd take a little holiday down by the seaside so I've come
to sihunoukville. I've been advised to watch my back because there's a
lot of ghouls around here.

Now one of the things about me is I've only actually been more than
knee deep in the sea like 3 times in my life. Like maybe once or twice
when I was a nipper and one time in Cornwall where it was so cold I
couldn't breath and had to get straight out.

So I'm on the southcoast of Cambodia and the sea here is like at least
twice as hot as the shower in my shithole of a room.

So I'm getting right into the sea.
I've had a few goes at it now in a couple of different places and to
be honest just being up to my neck in the water like that was one of
the greatist feelings of freedom I've ever expirenced.

I even did a bit of breast-stroke and learned to float.

The third time I was in the sea was the most memorable. I asked a
motodot to take me to "the best beach" and he dropped me off by a
stretch of long White sandy coast with out another person in sight. He
said he'd come back for me in 2 hours and that I can swim here.
I stripped down to my pants, (having not planed well enough to bring
swimming kit). Partically buried my clothes benith a bench and pulled
my now raw and sunburnt body into the warm and welcoming embrace of
the ocean.
There in I floated.
Starfished across the waters surface looking up into the endless
unfolding sky.
Pure unrestricted beauty.
I lay floating on my back within that powerful sea.
It's gentle currents determined my direction.
My eyes became closed.
My mind became quite.

In that one beautiful moment nothing mattered,

As I lay there alone I understood. I saw how everything was conected.
I visualised all the people I've left behind, all the people I've
lost, all the people I love and all the people I have yet to meet.
We were all together there in that moment. We were all part of the
same thing. We were one.
We were together.

Overwhelmed by the beauty of existance I cried. My salty tears running
from my face into the salty water around me.

I felt truly privaledged to be alive and greatful for all the other
lives that mine had touched.

Floating on an ocean of tears, alone but surounded by visions of
everyone I've ever loved. Insignificant and thankful.

And for maybe the first time in my life, i was truley at peace.

Although being in that happy-sad moment of sublime tranquillity left
me slighty off gard for what happend next.


As I crashed back into the physical rehlm my eyes opened to the sight
of a uniformed Khmer man shouting, "Police, Police" into a walkie-

Turns out the Moto who'd dropped me had neglected to tell me it was a
private beach no doubt owned by someone not to be fucked with.

So basicly there was about 5 minutes of his sandpaper like hands
unsucsessfully trying to grip my raw, squirming sholders as I
scrambled around nigh on naked benieth various benches trying to find
where I'd buried my belongings.
We then got involved in a bit of running slap grabbing as I attempted
to dress and escape at the same time.
Sheding skin like lizard tails everytime his gravelly fingers almost
got a purchase on my torso.
It ended with me pushing a $10 bill and a handfull of Rhl into his
face and then legging it through the back entrance of a resturant and
out onto the street.

Wet, raw and sand infested I sat for twenty minutes on an
uncomfortable bench waiting for my driver to return.

Close call.

Sent from my iPod

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Cambo photo set 8

Lady Boy

Find Your Self.

For all of you who thought I'd forgotten where I'm from let me tell you a little something.
I'm still Repping FYS Leggy's most hard core Graffiti gang.
Trust me yeah I'm nearly 17 years deep in the game.
Fair play maybe for the last 5 years I havn't been active.
in fact I maybe touched a can twice in 3 years.

Check it out I'm sat in this place called Nap House and all the walls are painted with hiphopish type images.
Ghetto blaster B.I.G etc.
anyway back wall has the worst thing I've ever seen try to palm it's self off as a piece.

So anyway I ask the owner who did it, he said he didn't know but he hated it.
I told him I'd come fix it for him the next day.

Long Short here's the snaps.

Paint was awful thought like carplan, but then again it is pretty much 1996 out here.
Had to paint the outline using Black Gloss and a brush.
Met a few other writers too.
A real cool guy from Sweden
and OXR
french guys I said I'd try and hook em up some connections for when they come England. They wanna paint trains.

I got free drinks for the rest of the night as well. ended up being a little bit sick.

Berko FYS.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Night bus

So it seems like it might be a really worthwile, interesting experience.
Yu know you've had a few days kicking about down the old tomb raider
temples and fancy maybe a little trip to the beach.

So someone's like, " yeah mate get the night bus just sleep through it."
The sign says free blanket, free water, air-con, big seat.
All sounds good.
10 hours sleep'd be a bonus an all.

Yu know pop a couple valleys and get yu head down. Saves a nights rent
an all.
The geezer who booked my ticket for me said that this bus even had a tv.
Lucky duck.

Seemed like a really good idea.
Or as the say out here, seemed like cumnut l'or. (yes Cumnut means
idea. no extra points for suggesting it's cos we think with our dicks,
milked that joke for all it's worth).

Yeah anyway the theory's sound.

But when it comes to the reality of it 4 hours deep into what is now a
12 hours journey, and the 4 music videos that are constantly repeating
across 5 tv screens have repeated beyond the point of novelty value.

And the geeza in the uniform who seems to be doing lenghts of the top
deck refuses to acknowledge you, let alone sort you out that free
water you were promised. Forcing you to try gathering enough saliver
in your mouth to try and dry swallow the vallium you've snapped into
what might hopefully be managable pieces,

And as the freezing blasts of unrelenting air-con whistles through
your paper thin blanket and against the skin which up to now has been
saturated with persperation as it struggles to become accustom to the
agressive heat and violent humidity, causing you to feel what must be
the start of a cold,

And as the bus bounces it's way across a series of pot-hole infested
dirt tracks causing your neck to spontainiusly whiplash your head into
the numerouse metal objects pertruding from all the areas within
smacking distance,

And as the group of vivatious Europeans at the front of the bus
continue to shout about boxes ticked in a language I really can't be
fucking bothered to try and identify,

And the unreasonably tall german man in the seat infront refuses to
acknowledge that he can't put his seat back without crushing yu legs,

And everytime you almost manage to drop off the ignorant uniform guy
suddenly wants to be your friend and starts trying to comunicate with
you using Khm-English and facial expressions,

And as the 2 and a bit vallium you've managed to get inside you don't
bring the sleep they promised but instead just seem to slow the
passing of time making every moment seem excrusiatingly uncomfortable,

Yu just gotta say to yourself,

Ah god,

This is awful!

Sent from my iPod

Way after Wat. And Wat

Right I've done the temples. Emptied my mind and emptied my wallet.

It was so fucking hot, the whole place was like one big wet t shirt contest and I wasn't even in the lead.
One fella in a brown t shirt was actually leaving a trail like a sweaty Barang slug.
Quite good for me to not be the sweatyest person in any given place at any given time.

I also helped set up website for the hostle chain I've been staying at.
Reggae Jon'll hopefully have it on line this week.


If yu ever in Cambo stay there and I get free rent.

Right about now I'm just about to get on another night bus.
Gunna go beach for a few days befor I go back to Phnom Penh.
I'll try and get some temple photos up an all.
Wireless here is shit today, took an hour and a half to upload 1 image.

Anyway I'll see you in 3 Valiums time
Berko out

Sent from my iPod

Saturday, 14 November 2009

One my own mission

So what i've done is gone and got my self a night bus like 6 hours to the north to go visit the ankor wott temple.

It's shaped like a massive turtle and is the biggest temple in Asia. It's also probably the first thing thailand'll be looking to occupy if they ever went to war with Cambodia, (something about that being a real possibility on the news yesterday, all the ex-pats were trying to work out how long it'd talk them to run to the embasy from the bar. We reckon 10 mins flat, then in theory it's a free flight home).

Anyway tomorrow morning I plan to try and get to the temple for sun rise and spend the day meditating, sketching, stretching and trying to empty my mind of all thought.

On a much harsher note
I also had quite a distressing phonecall earlier from victor.

Aparently last night Sam and a few others were taking a late night stroll around wott phnom, (a notourious lady-boy hotspot), and through some unclear series of events ended up getting robbed at knife point for his phone and wallet. Worse still is that a girl who was with him got pinned down and robbed by 4 other guys.
Harrowing I'm sure you'll agree.

I'm back in phnom penh on Tuesday so I'll know more then.
Or though I am tempted to maybe give it a bit of space and perhaps head towards a beach for a few days.

Sent from my iPod

cambo photo set 6

Friday, 13 November 2009

Cambo photo set 5

Khmer Chess a.k.a CHECK

Right same game different rules.

Pawns are called fish.
They move the same as usual but start one square further forward.
When they reach 3 squares from the edge of the board they become queens.

Rooks are called boats, Knights are just horses but both work as normal.

The King is still a King and moves the same with the exception of it's first move where it can move like a horse.

Queens can only move one space on a diagonal with one exception. Provided the fish in front of it moves first it can jump 2 squares forwards on it's first go. But it is defiantly one of the weakest pieces on the board.

Bishops I've only heard referred to as "this one" again only has a one square range but can go any diagonal and straight forward. Like a combination of Queen and Fish.

Eating a Spider

Send me things.

My address is
Mr Craven-Griffiths
P.O. Box 1498
Phnom Penh

If you send me a memory stick and a self adressed envelope then I'll
fill it with. Photos, videos and stories so as you can be a guest
blogger right here at Complimentory Wine.

Added to that all the Barang out here are looking for new music, and
the latest episodes of heroes, flash forward and lost (February)
Also if you have any old duel/tri-band mobiles you don't want then
they'd go down a treat.
As would a couple packs of primark xl thin White vests.

Or obviously an envelope full off cash would be alright. US Dollars
seem to cut the mustard here.


Sent from my iPod

Friendly locals.

Now the vast majority of local people I've met since I've been here
have been warm welcoming and friendly.
Today I just met my first local dickhead.

Check it out.
So Grant and I are walking down to our usual Internet cafe when Grant
points out that there are several others on the way and that maybe we
should try one of them.

As chance would have it the first one we look inside has two spare
computers and one of the other people from our hostle sitting in it.

Seems like the obvious choice.
The young lad behind the counter looks up from his phonecall and
points at the 2 spare pcs.
We sit at them and begin to get involved.
Grant's seems to be doing fine and as I glance across at his screen
facebook is happierly pushing it's so called news feed down his
throat. A glance back at my own reveals only a frozen home page. A
quick shake of the mouse confirms lack of computer response.

I called out to the guy and try to get him to help me remedy the
situation. He looked up at me through the shadow cast by the peek of
his cap, moved his phone from his ear shouted "I can not fix" and
returned to his call.

Grant had finished what he needed to do and offered me his computer.
As I moved seats the lad behind the counter started shouting "hey you
no cheat me, pay for computer, pay me 300 rhl now or you have problem
with me!"

Now 300 rhl is not a lot of money infant it's about 6p or something
stupid like that.

I said "this computer not work, I share this one, we pay together."
Kid was having none of it, thinking I'm trying to cheat him. He
started saying that I'd done this before earlier today. I tried
explaining that I had never been there before and he calls in some guy
from the back.

By this point i can see several potential outcomes of this situation.
Most of them bad.

I got Grant to go get Nam from up the road to help us translate and
maybe defuse the situation.
Several other Barang sat at various computers around the room also
tried to help but both the lad and the slightly older guy who'd
emmerged from the backroom still didn't seem to understand what I was

As Nam and Grant walked in I was attempting to sort it out by giving
the older guy 10,000 rhl. He looked at Nam then at the computer thus
realizing for the first time that this was all over 300 rhl.
He said something to the lad in Khmer then gave my money to Nam and
said "ok forget it but you never come here again."

As we left the other Barang all followed suite. I walked away feeling
a lot less safe than I've been feeling for the rest of the last week.
This was reinforced about 5 minutes later as the lad from the Internet
shop walked up the street dead-eyeing me the whole way. I get the
impression his boss sent him home for scaring all the barang away.

See the thing with that is, in Asia apparently the worst thing that
someone can do to you is make you lose face. So I basicly just did the
Asian equivalent of shitting on his pillow.

Also it turns out his boss is somwhow connected to the police so
that's a bonus.

And did I mention the shop is the first thing you come to after the 2
extreamly dark, ghetto-rape alleys that make up the only way in or
out of my guest house.

On another note I've also been told that if I want any kind of job
then I have to cut my hair.
I think I might do that tomorrow.
Might just make me look different enough to get employed or at least not
to be recognised/murdered.

Sent from my iPod

cambo photo set 4

This is where I live.