You know the saying: “Opinions are like arseholes. Everybody has one and most of them stink!” well that’s certainly the case in tiny old Kampot. And, as has been the case for a lot of my life I am continuing to act as a magnet for attracting those with the most stinky arsehole of opinions out there.
Meet Rochelle for example. In her early 50s she visits Asia every winter, partly for business purposes but mostly to avoid the cold depressing northern European winter (I hear you sister!).
Rochelle loves India. She’s pretty passionate about Thailand too. But apparently, she hates Cambodia. A fact I discovered whilst talking to her in a café in -yes you guessed it -Cambodia. According to Rochelle, Kampot is dull as dishwater with nothing to do, shite weather and no shops. And just in case you were wondering, the café we are sitting in having this conversation is in Kampot, it’s 34 degrees with glorious sunshine as is the rest of the region immediately post heavy North East monsoon rains.
Rochelle is staying in Kampot for five days, that’s how much she hates it, before heading out to the islands which she assures me will no doubt be overpriced, touristy and with shite weather too.
I choose to remain silent during this reverie. Gone are the days of challenging such bullshit statements as I long ago realised that people like Rochelle are happy being unhappy. And as long as I know this and don’t let her unhappiness become my own then all will be ok.
John. A pensioner of North American origin. Married to an Asian woman 20 years his junior, John despises everything about his wife’s heritage. Nothing is off limits. The people stink, they are dirty rotten thieves, the country is a corrupt mess, their religion sucks and the majority of them are just plain stupid. He tells me this as his wife stands by, smiling but not saying a word.
John shares with me his hate of Muslims and his love of Trump’s plans to “Make America great again”. I cringe but say nothing. Whilst his dumb ass hypocritical bigotry is frigging annoying in the extreme (it never ceases to amaze me how people who have chosen to move to live and work in another country rage against immigration to their own) it’s too hot to argue and I actually don’t care enough about this man to engage so instead I nod distractedly whilst thinking how I can turn this tw*t’s rants into a blog.
Another encounter reveals that John moved to Asia because he was sick of Western women. He wanted a woman who would do his bidding, quietly, without argument and “serve him in the bedroom as well as the kitchen” (yes he did actually say that!). John also shares his fantasy about a threesome with his wife and the female owner of the establishment we are in as they stand nearby chatting away, clueless. I struggle to block the image forming in my mind and hold back the gag reflex that the statement triggers before unsubtly moving the conversation on to matters bland and benign.
John has one saving grace. He loves the Kaimers (his bizarre pronunciation of the word Khmer) waxing lyrical about their friendly, helpful ways. Admiring their ability to enjoy life and their open and welcoming attitude to “us foreigners”. That is until he decides otherwise, having failed at the fifth attempt to find an apartment thanks to his “dumb ass tuktuk driver” only being interested in showing him places where he can get a commission (no shit Sherlock!?!?)
Various encounters with John have led me to conclude that, whilst his opinions are definitely of the arsehole variety they come with no malice as they’re purely borne out of stupidity. And safe in that knowledge I await with interest to see what he has to say for himself next.
And finally for now, there’s Angry Angus. Owning a shop in town you’d think that Angus feels some affinity with Cambodia and Kampot in particular. Discovering he has a Cambodian wife would add fuel to that fire. Engaging in conversation with (or more accurately, being talked at by) Angus for five minutes or more shatters these illusions. Angus is angry with Cambodian people. They’re “lazy pigs”, uncultured unlike their Thai counterparts and not interested in doing the work themselves to develop their country, instead allowing rich donors and in particular the Chinese to walk all over them.
Angus is an “expert on Asia” having lived here for over 20 years. Angus is “saving Cambodia from itself” by ‘rescuing’ precious treasures that the local people fail to see the value in and would otherwise destroy. Sadly, Angus is not altruistic in this respect as he is now selling said treasures for hefty price tags in his shop – rescuing my arse!
During the monologue, it turns out that Angus and I have a shared Asia history. We were both in China at the same time (1998). However, my declaration of this fact does not result in me being brought in to the conversation but merely acts as an opportunity for him to impart his expert knowledge on the people of China (sly but stupid) the country in general (a mess) and his amazing role in transforming the hotel landscape in Shanghai (he did something in interior design).
Angus is a knob! I do not like Angus. I will be avoiding Angus at all costs despite the fact that I like the stuff in his shop. Retail therapy is not worth the pain of being exposed to this man’s arrogance and angry arsehole opinions.
Whilst I appreciate that it is only my opinion that these opinions are of the arsehole variety and some may feel that I myself am sharing my own stinky arsehole opinion, I’m not too bothered.
I’m more concerned about why I attract these people in the first place.
Do I have a neon sign flashing above my head inviting all and sundry to opinionate here?
Is my resting bitch face not as fierce as I once thought?
What the hell is going on?
Answers on a postcard please…