Friday, 22 January 2010

Rejected writing.

Here's some writing I was commissioned to do by the magazine. They ejected it because I've written it in the first person. Well that and the fact that I don't actually know anything about what I'm talking about and sometimes I don't use real sentences.

I was told I had to go to 7 different places in Phnom Penh and write about what whiskies they had for sale.

They're not gunna run with this piece so I figured you might enjoy reading it.

Whisky

Aristocrat Bar in Naga World.

The first stop on my quest to find the best place to drink whisky in Phnom Penh was in fact the biggest building in Cambodia; Naga World. Situated on the first floor is Aristocrat, the lavishly upholstered Air-conditioned home of high end drinking. I positioned myself along side the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the gaming floors.

Not only is there a large selection of rare and imported whisky on offer but cigar enthusiasts might also be interested to know that Aristocrat also houses Phnom Penh’s only walk in humidor.

As far as whisky goes you could go for the reasonably priced 18-year-old Glenfiddich for US$6 a glass. Or alternatively if you’re a real high-roller or maybe if you’ve managed to walk away from the tables smiling following a big win then you could treat yourself to a bottle of 38 year old Chivas Regal Royal Salute for US$1515. The price is reflective of the quality and I’m assured that the sweet buttery flavour and long satisfying finish of this alcoholic masterpiece could only be matched by a couple of other blends worldwide. This may very well be the finest whisky in Cambodia.

Rory’s Pub.

33 Preah Ang Makhak Vann

After one look inside the door of Rory’s pub you can tell exactly what the theme is. To be honest the shamrocks and lepricons give it away. As you might expect from an Irish themed pub the range of whisky on sale is fairly extensive.

I settled on a Bushmills US$3.50 distilled and bottled in Northern Ireland.

A dark and murky looking liquid. The aroma reminded me of being a teenager sneaking shots from a bottle in my dad’s sock draw. I imagine that this drink is usually reserved for Irishmen and sailors or for those made from slightly stronger stuff. The perfect drink for anyone who wants to end his or her night by arm wrestling the barman.

La Residence

22-24 Street 214

Set back from the main road La Residence offers a sublime break from the bustle of the city. The comfortable bar offers beautiful garden views through any of the many French windows. The drinks list is fairly extensive but there was definitely more focus on cocktails than whisky.

However the whisky on offer definitely hit the mark.

Johnny Walker Blue Label US$12. This blend has a slightly lighter colour with a mild welcoming aroma. Soft on the pallet with a kick that leaves you in no doubt as to the quality.

Van’s Restaurant

5 Street 102

The open roof terrace or first floor balcony feels like an upmarket oasis as the darkness of early evening begins to creep along the horizon. A secluded private hideaway located right in the middle of town. The staff here are particularly helpful and attentive and even the menu had a particular touch of class to it.

In terms of alcoholic drinks I think Van’s is also more cocktail orientated than whisky but the classics are all there. Jim Beam or Wild Turkey for US$6.50 or like me you could try the Gold Label for US$16. A smooth refined drinking experience that warms the chest and brings a smile to the lips with an aftertaste that oozes class.

Elephant Bar at Raffles.

92, Daun Penh

Luxurious Elephant bar plays host to many a drinking westerner. Predominantly hotel guests mixed into a few of Phnom Penh’s expat business elite. Offering a very respectable range of premium scotch and a wide variety of single malts.

I went for the 10-year-old Aberlour US$16. The barman explained that ice was available as some people find this particular whisky to have quite a kick. However I’m no barbarian so I took mine straight up. A beautifully rich golden coloured spirit with the kick of something that’s worth the money. The soft fruity aroma gives way to the smooth and creamy taste with a soft finish that warms the insides long after the drink is finished.

Green Vespa.

95 Sisowath Quay

If you don’t think that whisky and motorbikes are natural bedfellows then you’ve obviously never tried to visit over half a dozen restaurants and bars across Phnom Penh on a one-day quest to find the best place to drink whisky in the city.

Which leads me to the Green Vespa. Where both whisky and motorbikes (or more specifically scooters) are both well represented.

An expertly crafted list of Scottish, Irish and American whiskies are available all specifically chosen for their quality. Something else guaranteed to bring a smile to your face is the price. Most blends are only US$2.25 per glass and Johnnie Walker Gold is only US$4.

If you ask the barman for his informed opinion then he’ll tell you what he told me. The Scottish ones are the best. Under his suggestion I went for a 10 year old Laphroaig. The delicate aroma of Scottish heather is soon accompanied by the earthy, nutty taste of 200 years of distilling brilliance.

Back of a Tuk-tuk

Now no Cambodian whisky drinking experience would be complete without a sampling of the domestic product. Mekong Whisky around US$1.75 a bottle. Although offering a lower alcoholic volume than many of the other blends mentioned, Mekong still definitely packs a punch.

Mekong is available in most bars and restaurants across the city but I chose to drink mine in the back of a tuk-tuk going up and down the side of the Mekong River. Occasional stops were made so as my driver could momentarily join me in the back for a quick sniffle.

The first taste felt more like rum than whisky but after 2 or 3 the drink was sliding down my throat like a greased Khmer moto-driver through hot rush hour traffic. My drinking buddy also helped add to what felt like an extremely Cambodian experience.

New business ideas

So I'm trying to think of a few ways to earn a bit of scratch/save a bit of money. The first advert is for a business idea Victor's been pursuing for about 6 months.
The second advert is for a business I'm planning to start if his idea really takes off.




Race Wars.

So there's a well-founded rumour flying about at the minute through out the Barang community.

Word on the street is that due to the tightening of Thailand’s employment laws a lot of expats currently living in Thailand are planning on making the move over here to potentially start teaching jobs in Cambodia.

That’s right the Falang are planning on coming over here and taking away jobs from hard working Barang.

Well the Barang ain’t happy with these Falang opportunists.

Coming over here with their superior fake Degree certificates that they got on the Ko Sang Road. (I don’t know how to spell it but you know the road I’m talking about).

Coming over here with their fancy technology and there genuine teaching experience. Taking valuable classroom hours away from our inexperienced Barang builders/teachers.

Coming over here with their Chang beer T-shirts and better quality flip-flops.

Next thing they’ll be after our Khmer women.

Those Falang are sexual deviants. Give them the chance and they’ll be grabbing up our taxi-girls and sleeping with our prostitutes.

Look I’ve got nothing against Falang yeah.

I mean I went to school with one.

I’d even say some of my best friends are Falang.

But I wouldn’t want my sister going out with one, yu know what I mean.

It seems the message on the lips of the majority of Barang is the same.

“Oi Falang this is our country. Fuck off back where you came from!”

Bat Shit Nuts. (Don't Smoke Ice).

What you're trying to tell me that just because a guy barricades the entrance to his business in order to put on a 36 hour blindfolded air guitar concert on Cambodia's freedom over regime day that he must be nuts?
Or just because this same guy repeatedly pisses himself and aggressively rants at his own psychosis whilst attempting to conduct the sounds of traffic that means he must be smoking ice?
I mean, what is the world coming to?


















Friday, 15 January 2010

A and E.

So when you’ve just had what felt like a really good first interview for a job you definitely want. And you’re just about ready to go and prepare your self for your next interview before popping off to the grand opening of a new shop that you’re contracted to be covering for the magazine.
The last thing you want is to be injured whilst sat on the back of a motorbike whose driver you’re paying to take you home.

That’s what happened to me today.

Bad news eh.

Long short: 6 stitches and no dancing for at least 4 weeks.

Here are the details.

Basically I know the guy. He works part time as local security liaison for the lakeside area. He’s also a moto-driver. Basically his duties as a security liaison involve holding a walkie-talkie and trying to get the bar-owners to give him free beer. If he manages to successfully negotiate the beer deal he uses the walkie-talkie to call other security liaisons and military police to inform them of which bar’s giving it out.
His duties as a moto-driver include wearing a helmet and charging the equivalent of a day’s wages for a 5-minute lift.

Anyway I get on his bike and he pulls off fast.
I shout “No! Ot Lune-Lune” (not fast-fast)
He laughs and tries to weave through the stationary traffic parked up the alleyway that acts as a main-road for the lakeside.
As he does he smashes my leg into a parked tuk-tuk.
I’ve literally been on the bike for about 35 seconds at this point.
So I’m all riving in pain and he’s still laughing.
2 minutes later we stop at the place where I’m staying and I roll up my trousers to see the damage.
He looks worried and tells me to get back on his bike.
He takes me to a chemist.
The chemist looks at my leg and tells him to take me to hospital.
We leave.
40 seconds down the road we turn back around because he left his helmet in the chemist.
We arrive at what looks like an abandoned hospital and some Bong on the gate sends us round the back.
The sign above the door we walk through says optical specialist.
Minutes later I’m lying on a fold out bed in a small dusty cell of a back room. 3 Khmer nurses are examining my wound.
Some talking takes place between them and him and eventually he turns to me with the information that it’ll cost US$15 and as soon as we pay they’ll start.

I tell him he needs to get his money out and he gives it “oooh, me no have money.”
A phonecall or 2 later and I’ve managed (with the help of Nam’s girlfriend Hoi) to get an 8 person lakeside landing party into the hospital to sort this shit out.
Upon the arrival of team lakeside the nurses start stitching. It felt/looked more like they were improvising based on something they'd seen on animal hospital. Oh and only one of them was wearing gloves or as far as I could tell had washed their hands.

In the end his mum fronts the charge (now $10) and then they all leave.


Later I receive a phonecall from Nam who reckons everyone in the area thinks it was my fault because he’s told them I had my legs hanging out the sides like I’ve never been on a moto before.
He’s also telling them I told him to go quickly.


Now the worst thing about this whole situation is that I was actually on my way to another job interview for a positon as a breakdance teacher starting Jan 25th. $160 a week.
Unfortunately I now can’t do that now and even though I think I got the other Job it don’t actually start till March.

So bad news for me eh.
On the up side chicks dig scars and I got a load of cool meds to ingest for the next few days.

So every cloud eh

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Girley Bar

"this is the life" he said.
He was one of them. Men on the far side of middleage who tuck their
black jack daniels t shirts into the extreamly high waist line of
their 3/4 lenth beige combat shorts. Arched sholders blend into
bolding, chinless wrinkeled, rounded, lose skinned faces. A room full
of aging men with skin like sun-dried wallets and wallets like bulging
crotches. All sat almost lifeless as swarms of taxi-girls hover like
scantely clad Mosquitos circling the colapsed barang cadavers hungry
for the dollars they bleed. This place is death. But they see it
as living.


Sent from my iPod

Politics

Sat in my usual seat at the corner of the bar I get to observe a lot
of social interaction. I get to see a lot of people meeting for the
first time.
I get to see a lot of single people on the pull.
Its funny to watch. The dynamic can change at any minute.

Here's an example. 3 girls enter a bar where 2 lads are drinking. Lets
say so far everyone's English. In the absence of anything better the
girls start to chat to these guys.

Right now imagine these lads are basically the worst examples of human
beings that society's ever miss-managed to produce. And they turn it
on for the girls. Girls who on the whole are generally a bit naieve
and sometimes a bit too confident in their illinformed opinions. But
other that that they seem to be nice girls who maybe deserve a bit
better than the worst men on the planet.

Anyway, if this dynamic stays unchanged for the remanded of the
evening then that means these separate collections of people form one
new group.

Generally people only stay in Phnom Penh for about 3/4 days so usually
these groups will hold for the duration.

But then there's the random factor.
This can shatter the dreams of any territorial English dickhead.
See at any moment as if from nowhere one of the girls starts talking
about some people they met when they went tubing in Lao.
And quicker than you could say ticking a box, boom up rocks these very
people.

9 out of ten times this turns out to be a group of tight-vested
Australian dickheads.

A completely different class of dickhead.

Generally the English get out twatted but put up a good fight.

Still that tubing experience was some tight knit group binding shit. I
mean remember when Johnno cut his leg goes a long way over remember
yesterday when we played pool.

Inevitably the girl ends up going away from the bar with a dickhead.
So whatever happens I supose they're all losers.

Sent from my iPod

Thursday, 7 January 2010

hot of the press


So the magazine that I whore for is out today.
I went and picked up a copy from a bar on't' river.
look there's a picture of me in the vox-pops section at the back of the mag.
They bunged a load of the stuff i wrote in it an all.
nothing to be excited about although a personal victory is that i managed to get a total of 12 adverbs in there. In direct violation of rule one on the style sheet.
ain't i a rebel
Although a bit of a lose for me was that they'd changed my article about eating the steak so it no longer bared it's original tittle; Meat. It also didn't start with the line "If you like meat..."
Shame that, bit of colour eh.
any way I've not done the maths but i did give it a glance and I recon I'm owed at least like $30.
So that's a plus.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Game.

So I'm sat in the bar the other night and someone's talking about the clearly delusional nutcase who's taken over the lease on the bar over the way they'd watched him put a sign outside advertising "the game"
basically it's like who wants to be a millionaire but with yes/no answers to general knowledge questions.

Top prize is a Harley Davidson or the cash equivalent of 50,000,000 Riel (about $13,000)

So I'm up for entering. Even though just a week and a half ago this quiz master geezer told me that I must be mentally handicapped because I believe that AIDS exists.
he's giving it "It's all a conspiracy, why won't you listen to me?"

Anyway he's apparently doing this to promote his bar.
(He was going on about putting up a big thing about it on something called Khmer 444.
Now I googled Khmer 444 and what actually came up was a thing called Khmer 440 Forum. I figured this must be the one but when I tried to visit the website a warning popped up saying that this website may damage my computer so I haven't seen it eh.)


Oh and as special U.S.P for this game he also painted his Nigerian barman white with what was apparently gloss paint.

The sign outside says that the game will go on every night till somebody wins the top prize or until the 6th Jan (last day of Christmas).
The game must be played by exactly 12 people at least on of which must be a Khmer translator.
Oh yeah and while the game is going on everybody else other that the 12 playing must leave the bar because the gamesmaster doesn't like being interrupted.


So by half 8 he had arrived and was ready to begin. Unfortunately 14 people where sat down wanting to play. He had also forgotten one of his bells and after a 25 minute dictatorial rant at all staff and would be participants he stormed off to collect his forgotten bell.
8 out of the 16 people took this opportunity to run away. As fast as they could getting as far from the nightmarish circus that emanated from this maniac as they could.

By the time he'd returned there was only 11 people other than him self in the bar. 3 of these were his staff. 5 of the others where our syndicate. We'd decided to play as a group and share any winnings that came out of it.
So we dragged in 2 of his staff and 2 random Khmer kids from off the street and the game began.
The way it worked was with 2 playing cards, 1 red, 1 black.
red symbolising yes, black no. To help us remember this the game show host told us to all think of black as like evil and the worst thing ever. "That'll help you remember it's negative'
Anyway after each question we had to lay the appropriate card face down on the table then he lays his and we turn ours over.
Same as him you go on to the next question.
Different from him you have to leave the bar.


He also thought the questions up on the spot.
So it was basically about matching up with his interpretation of the truth. Not actually knowing the right answer.
and also all the questions were about some kind of conspiracy.

Apart from this one question 4.
"Yes or No? last year I flew to San Fransisco for a conference called the Real Truth about AIDS? true or false?"

That's not a general knowledge question.
He might as well ask what his favorite colour is.

Any way last man in the syndicate took 500,000 Riel (US$125)
split 5 ways was pretty cool but not worth the rigmarole.

Next day we went back with 12 of us and a plan based on slight of hand averages and manipulating the host/rules. When we arrived he'd put a sign up saying the game was over because someone had won the big prize last night.
Lies we only won 1% of the total prize offered.
Again the sign said it was all explained on that same virus riddled forum.
Bit disappointing.


Friday, 1 January 2010