It’s so easy to be seduced by the beauty and simple peace of Cambodia… Oh, the temples, the jungles, the country roads. Although behind such breathtaking beauty sometimes there hides a wretched darkness.
“Wha? What was that?”
The first one we passed, we thought it was a man hiding in a bush. Waving a huge machete. And then there were others… many others. Somewhere between Siem Reap and the River of 1000 Lingas, one of the roads leads through an area where every house is guarded by a vicious scarecrow. They’re not in the fields, or guarding the crops. They’re keeping watch on the houses.
“It’s an old superstition,” said our driver. “It’s nothing. It’s to stop bad spirits coming inside.”
One of the guards wore a motorcycle helmet, like a goon from The Road Warrior. One held out a gun, another a sword, another a bazooka.
The driver at first wouldn’t stop, but later agreed to. He was evasive in his answers. Maybe he just didn’t know the right English words. Maybe he didn’t want to discuss the past — he’d bluntly told us his entire family was slaughtered during the time of Pol Pot, but nothing more was said of it. But this area was weird, and frightening. Like Last House on the Left, or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And one of them did have a chainsaw.