Imbiss On Cambodian River

Back in 1971 I hitchhiked through the Northwest with Cliff Tyson Gorr. We were hippies. Loggers and cops didn’t like longhairs and rides were hard to get, especially since Interstate 90 was under construction from the Idaho Stateline to Butte Montana.

The same was true for the road winding through the Cardamom Mountains between Koh Kong and Sihanoukville in 2007. Earthmovers cut a savage scar into the jungle. The government had big plans for this route.


Koh Kong.


Phnom Penh


No one was working on this grand project, because of the New Year holiday.

Our driver sped on the dirt road. He had family waiting for him on the coast. It was the Cambodian New Year too.

I had been on this road before.

Over seven years ago.

The first river at Trepeang Rung remained unspanned, requiring a stop for a ramshackle ferry.

The driver parked the van and said, “Twenty minutes.”

The river was perhaps 200 meters across. The new bridge was about two years from completion. The forests swarmed over the mountains like the Earth had never heard of Man.

Nick had served in the Royal Navy and asked, “Fancy a beer?”

“Sure.” It was well past noon.

The ferry crossing had several shacks. One had a sign nailed to a post offering ‘meatballs’. A German sat on the porch. His pregnant wife brought us beers. A pot on the table held not meatballs, but ‘frickadella’ a German delïcacy. I had two.

“You really think that’s wise.” Nick was more particular about where he ate.

“The worst thing that can happen is that I get sick and lose five kilos from the shits.” Actually I was hoping for that result, since I’ve gained a little too much weight over the past three months. I blame it on Scoby’s Pizza.

“Wohin Kommst du?” I asked the German.

The sixty year-old looked like he could have been in the Panzer Korps. He had been on this river for three years. His house was five kilometers up a dirt road. No electricity. No TV. Only a radio for WeltRadio Deutschland. This was his Montana. We spoke about a pimp I knew in Hamburg.

We laughed about the Reeperbahn. Nick’s father had brought his son to a Frankfurt brothel. He had been 15. The woman 20. Ït was sehr gut.”

The driver beeped the horn.

It was time to go.

Another group of travelers took our place.

If you get there, have a meatball.

“Es ist sehr gut.”

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