Asia | South East Asia | Cambodia | South West Cambodia | Sihanoukville – Day 21 – Chuck, Cambodia
And so, onto July 21, 2001: This was a quiet, at times comatose Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath) day for me. But this night Heidi, Sandy and I moto-ed across town to Serendipity Beach where, it was rumoured, there would be a traditional Khmer dance performance. We got there around 8:30 and there wasn’t even any fancy footwork from the gang of gents toking on dirigibles of ganja. They told us straight out that we’d missed the dancing. The leader of the merry men, all of whom were Westerners, was Chuck, leprechaun landlord of the mood-lit beach-front cabana and restaurant joint sign-posted as ‘Chuck’s (Other) Place’. Small talk, as the generous joint made the rounds under blood-shot squinty eyes lead Chuck to claim that all the men there were ‘pirates’. It seemed a particularly accurate moniker for these chuckling castaways, perhaps run-aways. It didn’t require much beyond a first glance to see that there were pieces of each of these men that were missing or dead; perhaps drowned at sea. Wasted and wasting away.
Chuck joined us at our table where he revealed to us in a soft southern drawl, that made the word ‘interesting’ become ‘inneresting’, that he had been in five wars starting with Korea when he was 19 and including Vietnam and the Gulf War. He neglected to name the other two. Somehow, at the end of this laid back evening of beach breezes and breaking waves, Chuck’s red eyes managed to steer us through the dark and back to our guest house in a ‘real ‘Nam-era Jeep’ as he called the wide creaky vehicle that strained in the night.
There was something quite distant and sad about Chuck as he bade us farewell and floated off to his far corner of this end of the earth.