An open letter to Tory voters

Deviating briefly from travel and fiction, I wanted to post something on this blog about the upcoming general election in the UK. Specifically, exploring why people vote Tory, when it is in absolutely everyone’s interests to do anything but.

It seems to me, there are two reasons one might vote Conservative.

The first reason is that you’ve had your head caved in by a ruthless beating from the right-wing press. You’ve been sold sensational lies and frightening rhetoric, and it has come from sources you considered reputable.

Continue reading An open letter to Tory voters

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Ya-Ya, we’ve been to Battambang

Bats! Bamboo! Booze! Yes, Battambang is bursting with balliteration. Pronounced bat-tam-bong, the beautiful town rests in the north-west of Bambodia, and is totally bace.

But first impressions are bad. When you pull into Battambang bus station, inconveniently built a few kilometres out of town, tuk-tuk drivers place their laminated adverts up against your window and then mob you as you disembark. Continue reading Ya-Ya, we’ve been to Battambang

A feather in Cambodia’s Kep

Kep trek
Winning

We had chosen to explore the south coast of Cambodia for one primary reason – to find bioluminescent algae, or plankton, in the ocean. We’d found none in Sihanoukville, while Kampot had its own variety of glow-in-the-dark wildlife, so Rabbit Island, off the coast of Kep, was our last chance.

Only 30 minutes down the road from Kampot, Kep sits on the Cambodian coast close to the Vietnam border. We’d booked a bus, but found the agency had overbooked the mini-van by about 10 people, most of whom were on their way to Ho Chi Minh City. Continue reading A feather in Cambodia’s Kep

Kampot of gold

After celebrating our engagement with a bottle of Sailor Jerries, we woke early to catch our bus to Kampot. It wasn’t my favourite journey, I have to say. We hadn’t had time for breakfast, save a couple of tiny bananas, and the heat and hangover conspired to send my body into some God-awful blood-sugar crash.

Thankfully the bus driver was happy to stop while I breathed deeply on the roadside and tried to de-clamp my hands. Swarana shoved bananas in me and one of the passengers swapped his seat with mine so I could sit in the front. Lovely chap – as Cambodians generally are. Continue reading Kampot of gold

We snook a look at Sihanoukville

Road to Sihanoukville
Rare irrigated rice paddies

When you finally breach the sprawling limits of Phnom Penh, the shape of the country becomes apparent: it’s flat, as far as the eye can see.

To me, it’s a strange and oddly compelling sight, to see unbroken steppe fade to transparency. The absence of obstruction – hills, forests, buildings – is fascinating to me, I suppose because I’m used to rolling landscapes and obscured horizons. Continue reading We snook a look at Sihanoukville

Putting Phnom Penh to paper

Independence Monument, Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is mightier

The transition from Singapore to Cambodia’s sprawling capital city Phnom Penh feels a bit like Marty McFly travelling from the pristine future to a Biff-ravaged alternate 1985. There’s not as much on fire, and no one calls anyone a “butthead”, but the relative comparison is sound.

First thing’s first – transport form the airport. March straight past the taxis, with their air-con and English-speaking drivers, and head for the marginally cheaper tuk-tuks beyond – you’re a backpacker now, remember? You don’t get taxis. Continue reading Putting Phnom Penh to paper