"There's enough material in Phnom Penh to keep you going for a lifetime...which can, of course, be quite short over there if you fuck up with the wrong people."
It is typical of the way things work in Phnom Penh that i only met one of my fellow journalists at The Paper after working here for two months. And that was only because i ran into him in a bar. He is obviously from the classic school of journalism - one of those hacks who does all his writing in bars and only comes into the office to claim expenses. Still, i figure if you're going to learn, learn from the experts.
And there is no shortage of bars in Phnom Penh in which to hone my journalistic skills. So far i have worked my way through the first half of them, along with the first half of that axiomatic expression, "We live and we learn". I may be in a foreign country, but a lot of the terrain i am covering is, sadly, familiar ground. Like doing Wholly Inappropriate things whilst inebriated.
I should have learned long ago that tranquillizers and alcohol are not one of life's more scintillating options. I'm not sure why our lifestyle editor was handing them out in a bar in the early hours of the morning, but from what i understand, it was because somebody had, Wholly Inappropriately, handed them to her. My job was to hand them on to somebody else - anybody else - like a hot potato. Rather than wash them down with my eleventh Black Russian. I'm not sure what happened after that, but the Cambodian girls who work in the shop downstairs from my apartment reported that my girlfriend brought me home at 4am, which is strange, because i don't have a girlfriend. Other than that, i know for a fact that i sent some ludicrous text messages, including one to a very nice American girl saying i wanted to bite her, and another to a work colleague asking him to accompany me in search of the happy pills. I don't remember anything at all from 2am, after the Stilnox kicked in, until 5am, when i managed to bring myself around. But i am pretty sure i came home and frightened my (probably now former) flatmate Zoë as i crashed about the apartment, taking powerful stimulants, while attempting to persuade her to accompany me to the Kambol shooting range to pose naked with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
"That is Wholly Inappropriate, on a whole range of levels," is what she said.
Looks like it is barge-pole range for me with Zoë from now on.