Although I have done quite a few naughty things in my five years of backpacking and living around South-East Asia, there are certainly a few stories that come into mind. One story though, must be published on this wonderful thing called the internet, for the world to see and read for eternity.
I was 25 and travelling in Cambodia with one of my best friends, if not my best friend, which I shall call Martin for story telling’s sake.
We took a long and boring seven hour, bumpy-as-hell bus trip from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. Siem Reap, home of Angkor Wat, one of the seven natural world wonders also has a very dark side, which we should soon discover, completely opposite to the nice Jungly, backpackery and touristy side.
Once we finally arrived in Siem Reap, we quickly stepped of the bus and hailed a random tuk-tuk driver at the bus station to take us into the center of town.
The tuk-tuk driver asked us where we were from, how long we were visiting Cambodia and if we visited Cambodia before. When we replied we were both Dutch, the standard marijuana and football jokes erupted from the tuk-tuk driver’s mouth.
He then asked us if we already had a place to stay. We didn’t and we were adventurous to say the least, so we let this shady dude take us to the place he suggested.
He took us to what is known by local expats, ‘’the drugs guesthouse’’. I already knew this too, as I been there on my own a year before. As I don’t want to provoke any crackdown with this writing, I will not tell the exact location of this guesthouse, for obvious reasons.
We took a few turns and rode a few dark roads and alleys in the tuk-tuk towards the guesthouse. We stopped once at a small supermarket where we bought a few beers and some Extra Joss.
For those who don’t know, Extra Joss is energy drink in powder form, similar to the banned ‘BLOW’ in the United States, Europe and Australia. Now this stuff is kinda funny effect-wise and it’s illegal in every country on the planet except Cambodia and Malaysia.
Why? Because it’s very potent and equals like 30 cups of coffee per satchel. One satchel normally is six doses of 5 cups of coffee each. People pour it into vodka to create a Joss Shot or simply snort it in small quantities to get the desired effect.
We, as young and dumb as we were, just snorted the entire package of Extra Joss the two of us, within like ten minutes, in the back of the tuk-tuk, on the way to the ‘’drugs guesthouse’’. Totally sugar rushed, tipsy and hyped to maximum extend, we checked in at the lobby.
After checking in, this small Cambodian (Khmer) reception worker took us, four stories up, over some balcony/rooftop chill area, to, I kid you not, room 420. After showing us the room’s facilities and the fact that the air conditioning system was actually working, he walked to the old phone on the night stand and gave us the most serious gaze I had seen in about a few weeks and my friend in a few years. ‘’If you two need anything, and I mean anything, just press 1 to call reception.’’
I remembered my friend asking something like ‘’what do you mean with anything?’’ I already knew the answer; anything. The Khmer reception worker explained to my friend that we could literally call for weed, yaba tablets, MDMA, ice (China White) and what have you.
As I am really against drugs (in Asia) in the first place and most definitely against hard drugs, we decided to just order 10 grams of weed to keep us calm and not in to much problem with local authorities. Hell, we were planning on smoking it on the rooftop of the guesthouse anyway. In the end, what’s more awesome than smoking on top of a guesthouse, with a view over the entire village, anyway?
The order came upstairs within like five minutes and we didn’t even have to pay immediately. Now please be cautious readers, this normally is a trick to seriously rack up your room-service/stay bill by just keep on supplying you until you cannot pay the room stay anymore, at which point you get indebted, ’’owe them something’’ and get forced into drug trafficking.
In Cambodia people earn about two United States Dollars a day, 10 grams of weed costs 10 USD. In fact, their ATM’s dispense only United States Dollars because their countries currency, Khmer Riel, is worth literally nothing. You cannot even exchange Riel anywhere outside of Cambodia to any other currency. The weed is of mediocre to (very) bad quality to say the least, as a veteran Dutch marijuana smoker.
In the Netherlands a single gram of weed costs about 8 to 12 USD. As me and my friend were and still are both Dutch, whom are known for their greediness, our slogan became, after receiving that ridiculously cheap bag of weed from the reception guy: ‘’Keep it Rhiel’’.
Well, as one might expect, we didn’t keep it Riel. We were high like kites and decided to rang numero uno once again from our room. ‘’How about girls?’’, Martin asked. Well, those most certainly were on the menu too. Within like three minutes a tuk-tuk driver honked a few times, signalling us to come down. We entered the tuk-tuk totally out of our minds and drove out of the center of Siem Reap to one of the so called ‘’karaoke restaurants’’.
Now, this type of restaurant is very intriguing, to say the least. At the entrance you already see like fifty young women and girls in red dresses and high heels, that cannot possibly all be waitresses in this quiet restaurant. Furthermore, this restaurant had 2 meter high, bamboo-like walls between every table that made it impossible to see your next door diner neighbors without leaving your table or ‘’booth’’.
After we had been taken to our booth and had taken our seats, together with the tuk-tuk driver, following some maybe twenty-year-old waitress in virtually no clothes at all and very high heels, we browsed the food menu. That this wasn’t a normal restaurant was kinda obvious to all people involved. Before we could even order, me and my friend experience our first ‘’line up’’.
Line ups happen everywhere in Russia, Eastern Europe, South America and South East Asia. A ‘’line up’’ is the vile and disgusting, humiliating act of having like twenty-five forced-by-poverty girls line up in a row with cheap wristbands or in this case, in Word written and printed a4 sheets with numbers on them. 1,2,3,4,5 all the way to 27, in our case. This was Tinder to the utter maximum extend. Not only did I experience this as a human meat rating contest, but as a vile lack of human rights.
Me and my friend were so shocked, yet so drunk and drugged up, that we made the weird decision to actually indeed pick numbers; two each. I don’t remember which numbers we chose, but that doesn’t matter to the story anyway. Now what happens next, is quite weird and difficult to understand for most Western people. The two girls we both chose, four total, took a seat on their knees at the table, one on each side of us.
From now on, we didn’t have to use cutlery anymore. From my perspective, the girl on the left took the spoon and fed me the food, whilst the girl on the right handed me my drink every once in a while. This, of course, especially as not many men are born as powerful persons, captains of industry or royalty, gives kind of an intense dominating feeling. I remember feeling like an Egyptian Pharaoh-god. (Pharaohs were considered gods)
After ordering more and more food and drinks for a while, me and my friend didn’t care about prices anymore. This was the sickest sh*t we had ever done together and we were about to pay any price, which couldn’t be high in this place anyway. It didn’t take to long before our plates and drinks as well as ourselves and the girls, moved to a backroom of the restaurant; also known as ‘’the karaoke room’’.
Here we enjoyed some lap dances, crazy Cambodian (Khmer) girls singing along Cambodian love songs we never heard of, on some kind of home cinema set big screen TV and unlimited refills of cheap, very cheap vodka with some mix drinks. As I had been in similar situations, I knew where this was leading to and I literally only wanted to save my friend’s life at that time.
I had done so many crazy things already that maybe that night was my time to get robbed, murdered or organs taken out, waking up in a bath tube filled with ice the next day. I knew that stuff happened at these kind of places and I also knew that if it happened that night, I had nowhere to run or hide.
Whilst my friend was all craving for female companionship, I quickly recouped myself and decided to politely decline any incoming drinks or avances made by the Khmer women or girls. I asked where our tuk-tuk driver was but got all kind of deflecting answers from the Khmer women and girls that I should just ‘’lilax and enjoy’’. All alarm bells were ringing at that moment.
My adventurous self got me in this situation and once more, I was going to get out out of it, that was for sure. It was almost like a basic instinct thing I was thinking back then: ‘’if you cannot fight them, then please, do run’’, was all my mind was thinking at that time. I didn’t want to be seen as a cheap foreigner or ‘’farang kee nook’’ in Thai and thus decided to bribe the ‘’mamasan’’, the whore mongerer or mother-in-charge of the entire girl gang.
As me and my friend only received a few lap dances and fondled a bit, the requested bribe amount was actually so low that I was happy to pay the money in cash to the lady in charge. After the cash payment was made, I was allowed to drag my friend out of the karaoke room and we taxied home, back to the guesthouse, by a private tuk-tuk arranged by ‘’mama’’.
Eventually we just went to bed and enjoyed a very stressful sleep in the guesthouse and even after writing up to here I don’t really get why I replied to this question as I didn’t actually do anything particularly naughty this night or in this story, or wait did I?
I risked beheading or twenty years of solid jail time by using and ordering drugs in Cambodia. I eventually went to the most shadiest line up joint in a third world country ever, also known as ‘’Karaoke restaurant’’ or in worse cases; ‘’chicken karaoke’’, recouped myself and got the hell out of that place whilst taking care of my best friend. Although I didn’t sleep with any skinny, crack-smoking Khmer girls or women that night, my behavior in perspective of most western people, can hopefully be called: ‘’naughty’’.