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Melmoth Goes to the Beach

By: Melmoth Posted: October-21-2009 in

To state the obvious… there’s been a lot of rain in Snookie. The storms have had an effect on the beach and all the time I was there, the beach and businesses of Ochetheal suffered. The water swirls with storm crud: flotsam and jetsam. The barang end of the beach is hit hardest. There is no beach between Sea Dragon and Coasters and the cliffs, no Serendipity Beach. Even at low tide most of the beach bars around the Dolphin Shack were sandbagged in a vain attempt to keep the sea out. It gave the perennially scruffy beach that attractive post-disaster chic. Locals were saying that they have never known the sea to come up so high.

I stayed at Lucky Guest House and Cheese Mart mainly because it amuses me to tell people where I stayed. It cost $13 for a clean room with aircon, hot water, TV, fridge and was very quiet so undoubtedly represents good value. It is also near the centre of the beach so I didn’t have to walk far for a morning swim.

Chaimoy Frog Shack is as good a beach bar as any on Ochetheal and I watched the next-door goings on at Ru Bar with its London Tube station logo. There is a baby macaque on a longish leash tethered to a tree as the owner’s pet – and maybe to attract custom. He certainly does attract attention but, as many people are understandably and advisedly wary around monkeys, I am not sure how good he is for business. Right now he’s a friendly chap and will happily engage in mutual grooming with humans. And he displays a healthy interest in breasts! Many barang tourists are charmed and want to take photos but he is already pissed off with flashes so immediately turns his head away when threatened with a camera. Persistent attempts to get his attention are eventually rewarded with a tail-up display of his puckered arse and threat of scatological retaliation. Monkey body language is so easy to read and a hilarious way to pass the time. Some female beach workers have a maternal affection for the monkey but the boy gangs take pleasure in tormenting the poor animal and one wonders how long he will stay friendly towards humans. The bar owner tries to chase off the boys but that’s just part of the game for these feral kids.

On my first day the gang came through at 9 am. The smallest looked about 7 but is probably at least a couple of years older. He was wearing a black t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan: “THIS COULD BE YOUR SON” and had his nose ostentatiously buried in a plastic bag of glue as he strutted along with a defiant look. If anybody needed parenting, this young boy did. But it got me thinking about which NGO had come up with this T-shirt and for what purpose? Is it meant to prick the conscience of a potential paedophile? I am no expert in paedophile psychology but I would think that a highly unlikely outcome. In the first place it assumes that the potential offender reads English well enough. That NGO’s command of English also seems somewhat limited; the t-shirt could be read as self-promotion: up for adoption… that’s trafficking, isn’t it? I am furthermore given to understand that the majority of paedophilia happens within the family so the t-shirt might conceivably even be an incentive for an abuser. I have in the past seen a boy wearing a “THIS COULD BE YOUR DAUGHTER” t-shirt. Maybe Madonna or Angelina should be told about this, one could get the kid a Bangkok sex-change op (woops, sorry, gender realignment procedure) and add a curiosity to their Benetton ad family collections. Beyond my cynicism, however, there is a real point about cultural assumptions and genuine concern for the vulnerable that seriously needs addressing: There is a troublingly disproportionate amount of effort and expenditure that goes into pursuing Western sex offenders that ignores tourist numbers by nationality and the blindingly obvious. I see plenty of (very prominent, huge, very expensive) anti child-abuse billboards and anti-trafficking publicity in English and khmer but none in any other language. Why is that? Is this vision truly global? Is it the most effective use of financial resources? Are we to assume that child abuse is limited to English speakers?

To avoid these uncharitable thoughts, the gangs, beach merchants, beggars and any advertising whatsoever, Otres Beach is still the place to go. The bars nearest to Queen’s Hill are functioning no matter what the weather and Hurley’s Cantina opened on 09.10.09. The opportunistic bars that set up further along are looking a bit sad. Maybe they will be spruced up and/or taken over before the season or even for Bon Oum Teuk. The sea does not seem to have encroached onto the beach here nearly as much as on Ochetheal (possibly because the bars are set further back) and Otres is getting increasingly known and increasingly popular with barangs.

user avatar Anonymous


I was there last week and I thought that maybe otres had more sand than usual,occateul was dreadful.
Of course if the restaurants had been built further back from the beach.......


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