Guest article by Alex Hamilton, whose Facebook and Instagram can be found at Immortal_Explorer.
Drugs: Apparently Plentiful in Sihanoukville
If you like drugs, go to Cambodia. Go directly to Sihanoukville and start running your fucking mouth off. This is a vague account of my experience in that life-sucking paradise.
It was a blisteringly hot afternoon. My friend Nick and I were sitting in the bar outside our shack. I was in agony, the sunburn I’d inflicted upon myself days ago still going strong. I gazed along the beach. The young girl who sold fruit made her way towards us. As usual, we purchased some out of kindness. I’d been holed up in my quarters for the last few days, mainly because moving was so painful, partly because I was fed up of seeing people’s jaws drop when they saw my pus-filled, burnt face. I paid her two dollars for the one dollar papaya.
“What happened your face?,” she asked.
“Day five: I haven’t slept, I haven’t eaten, I’m schizophrenic. The prostitutes have left to get more ice. By this point the paranoia’s indescribable.”
I looked up and to the right. For a brief moment I considered telling her: “Well basically, in an attempt to sleep after all the crystal meth we’d been smoking, Nick and I had been snorting pure heroin all night. I lost the ability to walk and fell head first into the sea; being unable to move I nearly drowned. However, an act of God washed me back to shore, where I spent the next ten hours vomiting my way through the night and into the next morning before passing out. Such was the intensity of the China White that I remained unconscious for most of the day, occasionally waking to vomit as the sun baked me alive.”
I decided not to tell her.
After some small talk she pointed to the neighbouring bar and asked me if I’d met Alex. I hadn’t. I made my way over and introduced myself. He shook my hand and invited me to sit down. We introduced ourselves further; he was from Scotland and had been in Cambodia two weeks, as opposed to my month. We relaxed into each others company and drank heavily from then on. After getting the gist of each other, the conversation inevitably turned to drugs. He told me about his time in Thailand, and the eight days he’d spent awake on ice — crystal meth to those not acquainted with the terminology. Like some ecstatic tour guide I informed him that we could get it here. Or, rather, that we could get virtually anything here.
Into the Abyss: Ice and Yabba
Skip forward half an hour. Me, Alex and Nick are locked in my new bungalow, chasing ice off the foil of our cigarette packets. We’d already gone through the Yabba. ‘Hitler’s drug’: what a load of shit. It hadn’t even touched me. I remember being furious after smoking it. Not due to the effects, but rather the lack of them. Anyway, the ice was doing its job and we were still sane at this point. The most efficient way of me describing the next few days for you would be by showing you a clock where the numbers had been replaced with the word ‘ice’, and the second hand was made out of Yabba pills.
Day five: I haven’t slept. I haven’t eaten. I’m schizophrenic. The prostitutes have left to get more ice. By this point the paranoia’s indescribable. Nick’s putting Sellotape over the letter box to stop people posting snakes through it and I’m in the bathroom looking for bugs. It’s the middle of the night. I grit my teeth and pluck up the courage to look in the mirror. I highly advise against this if you’re ever in the same position – my previously blue eyes had faded into a kind of grey. It reminded me of the smoke coming out of a chimney on an industrial site. After an insulting amount of time the hookers returned, and Nick hastily prepared a bong out of a plastic bottle.
They advised that this time we combine the Yabba and Ice. Naturally they went first; they were the ones with addictions to look after. When my turn came I insisted on a fresh dose. I toked maniacally and held it in for as long as I could. As I was nearing the end of my breath it kicked in. I was overwhelmed by chemistry. I paced up and down the room, congratulating the girls on the success of the cocktail.
We carried on for days. Though succeeding in hiding the paraphernalia whenever the cleaners knocked on the door, we couldn’t hide the smell – but no one gave a shit. As Nick and I drifted deeper and deeper into psychosis, the girls actually seemed to thrive off doing the drug runs.
Making An Escape
After a while we didn’t even have to leave the house anymore. People were knocking on the door throughout the night, and eventually the day, pushing smack and meth on us. We took it but began to grow more and more wary. Soon they would likely just kill us. If I cracked the door it reminded me of the scene from Notting Hill where he opens his front door to crowds of paparazzi. There were people everywhere waiting to make money from us. Motor bike taxis would compete to get to us first and make a sale. They could have given up being taxi drivers by this point and just sat outside my bungalow selling ice. That night we politely asked the girls to leave. The fact that mine had one eye was really starting to freak me out, and as Nick’s tolerance to the drugs grew it became increasingly difficult to overlook the fact that his had AIDS.
The three of us hid in the toilet and discussed our get away. We decided to head to the capital. The next morning we left, the beach-side paradise of Sihanoukville and its myriad temptations behind us – but what awaited us in Phnom Penh?
(Editor’s Note: This is part 1 of a series. To view Part 2, click here.)