It’s been slow, but I’m gradually chipping away at the top shelf of my bookshelf. The one where all sorts of books sit. And wait. For me to crack them open. And dive in.
Off the Rails in Phnom Penh: Into the Dark Heart of Guns, Girls and Ganja [Amit Gilboa]
this was my first read. and what a read it was.
I had to skim some pages because they detailed with such graphic intensity the exploits of expatriates into Phnom Penh brothels. i deal enough every day with this sort of information that I sure didn’t need to read full accounts all over again.
How do I describe this book? Unbelievable? Certainly in some ways. Intriguing? Definitely. Disturbing? Yes.
Amit Gilboa describes his experiences traveling through Cambodia and camping out in Phnom Penh in the mid-1990s. He covers the coup in 1997, the escapades of drug and sex addicted foreigners, he notes his observations of post-conflict, corrupt and complicated, Cambodia.
It is a fascinating and disturbing read and gave me a glimpse into a subculture in Phnom Penh that I know still exists, though not nearly as flamboyantly and obvious as it was a decade ago.
As I continue to work in the human rights and anti-trafficking space, this book made me realize just what it is that we’re up against. While there are phenomenal changes happening in Cambodia, there are still very deep pockets of darkness and misery and oppression. And it gave me a renewed vigour to see change happen. From the inside out.