some comments on Cambodia after a recent trip
Poetic Landscapes, A Black Buddha And Kingfishers
Koh Kong is a border-town in Cambodia with a black Buddha. The Buddha looks out to sea. He reminded me of Barack Obama in meditative mood. There is a lot to meditate. The landscape is forlorn and suggestive. He is forlorn and suggestive. The school football-field nearby, full of marshy water and grass, is forlorn and suggestive.
There used to be common kingfishers, white-throated kingfishers and collared kingfishers in abundance…but on my recent trip I could only spot one type – the collared. There was far more heavy traffic on the road to the sea and Buddha. Rubbish is also accumulating along the way and attracted starlings, fantails, wagtails, waders, mynas, crows and pipits — so rubbish attracts birds, certain species.
Thmorda Crab House seems to be cutting trees or not looking after its landscape because my oriental-pied-hornbill tree stood forlorn and suggestive, too. Not a hornbill in sight.
Does anyone visit Koh Kong? Does anyone visit Koh Kong’s black Buddha? Does the statue figure in tour-guides? I think not.
Cambodia is getting its act together slowly after decades of hideous problems. That act includes unvisited Buddhas and ravished countryside, destroyed national parks (Ream) and rapidly changing seaside towns (Sihanouk Ville). Koh Kong remains relatively untouched and still sports wilderness, jungle, the Cardamom Mountains where I did see my great hornbill cresting the air and descending into jungle-valley.
How many tourists stop off to taste Fat Sam’s cuisine or see his ex-wife’s scowl? How many tourists trip out for $25 to see the Irrawaddy dolpins? How many emails does it take to get the “farang” organiser to answer a request for free info.? How long will it take a Koh Kong khmer to rethink the price of a small boat trip to the estuary?
Koh Kong, the border-town with the black Buddha, saw me trip out to the Buddha on three separate occasions. Apart from me no tourist was in sight. The school children came out to see me and my birding binocs. They lingered. They eyed me, sad. I did give them some money. The Barack Obama Buddha eyed me as I went away, maybe forever, because like music that makes me want to cry, I can’t stand Koh Kong’s poetic landscapes too much, its unvisited shrines, its quelled kingfishers, and its endless melancholy.