Tuesday, 25 April 2023

Rotting in Kampot

Lotus pond sunset


June 2023 marks:
  • 1 year in Kampot
  • 17 years in SEA
32 when I left, 49 now. The social and technological changes have been staggering. The early blogs were hastily cobbled together in internet cafes - normally in an hour. Phones didn't have cameras so the 2006 - 2009 era is light on pics. I had a habit of drunkenly losing USB sticks and cheap digital cameras - most of the photos back then were courtesy of transient girlfriends.

These days we're festooned with laptops, smart phones and 24/7 connectivity. When I sit down to write I normally have no idea where to start, what to cover or how to end. It just spews forth in a haphazard maelstrom of mind puke. I used to maintain a written travel journal - not anymore.

Tax Cattle

Khmer New Year decorations

So what's this blog now? Well, I'm not sure. It's mutated into the ramblings of a lad who embarked on a life less ordinary. Leaving behind the spirit-crushing existence of an Anglospherean debt-slave. Was never my bag to be tax-farmed in a western liberal democracy, ultimately funding its feminism, woke intersectionality, bloated welfare, open borders, budget deficits and endless wars. No Sir, leaving has been the single best thing I ever did - easily.

I enjoy browsing the older entries, dipping me toes in Lake Nostalgia. Cringing at the sloppy writing and general naivety while simultaneously marveling at the youthful vigor and lust for life.


Lust for life reminds me of Iggy Pop and, indirectly, the Royal Navy. Let me explain: It's 1994 and HMS Coventry is docked in Athens. We're having a breather from patrolling the Yugoslav coast. Barney and I go ashore knowing we can only have a few beers as we have to be back at midnight to scrub and polish two-deck. Well, a few beers turn into nightclubs and nightclubs turn into one night stands with a pair of Greek supermodels*.

*subjective (very)

Lotus Pond Tea and Coffee
This youthful endeavour cost us dearly as we were adrift (late for duty) and consequently charged as criminals. At Captain's Table my Divisional Officer described me as having "a vivacious attitude to life" as he made a (feeble) case for the accused (and unambiguously guilty).

"Do you know what vivacious means lad?" The Skipper queried, as if swatting a fly, not raising his eyes from his notes.

"No Sir." Hushed, sheepish as I stood rigidly to attention, beads of sweat forming on my brow. The Captain, D.O. and Joss unable to conceal slight grins.

"How old was she?" Clearly irrelevant to the issue at hand but the defense attorney (my D.O.) didn't deem it worthy of a loud 'Objection your honour!'


"I don't know Sir, I don't remember." Wishing the ground would open up and swallow me. More smiles around the kangaroo court.

"Well lad, you were 5 hours adrift, a very serious offense under the Naval Discipline Act, would you say she was worth it?" raising his eyes from his notes and noticing me for the first time. 

"Yes Sir." More confident, though not really knowing how to play for the best outcome. He chuckled as he tapped his gavel and passed a sentence of 3 day's pay and 5 day's 9's (a form of punishment) as if it had been a foregone conclusion.

Anyhow, Iggy Pop's single reminds me of the word vivacious, which reminds me of that drunken night of Greek passion which reminds me of peeling endless potatoes and cleaning more than my fair share of nautical U-bends somewhere on the Aegean Sea. Not too dissimilar to Galley Slaves chained to their oars in the Greek Navy, on the same sea, some 2,500 years earlier.

Worth it? At the time? Probably. Today? Nee chance. There were many such incidents. Young, dumb and full of cum.

Rotting in Kampot

Life continues to tick along effortlessly with a sense of gratitude constantly humming in the background - retired in the tropics at 48 - lucky Geordie bastard. Hours are spent meditating in the hammock. After some fine tuning I've become proficient at quickly achieving a deep, calm, stable state. Many deep-rooted fears, some I didn't even know I had, have dissolved. Life has improved enormously since seriously engaging in this practice - no question.


Bottom of Red League

However, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and after a year of lone wolfing it's time to get out and about. I started playing pool with Steve, a former snooker player from Lancashire who knocked in plenty of century breaks back in the day. He's the best I've ever played - we've had around 50 frames (lost count) and I've only nicked 4!

Ended up joining forces with Bong Johnny at The Power of Love. Bottom of the league but a game in hand. Looking forward to getting around all the bars and meeting more Kampotians. Bring it on.


March, April and May are very hot and dry months in SEA. Many a Barang will moan but I love the stifling heat - still exotic. Like Thailand, Kampot has three days of เล่นน้ำ or លេងទឹក for Khmer New Year. I hung out in the Funky Durian - a rooftop bar overlooking the Durian Roundabout hosting a massive stage, 600 obnoxiously loud speakers and a fire engine spraying thousands of foot soldiers armed to the teeth with pump-action water guns. Quite a spectacle.

Most businesses are closed and Kampot's central streets are clogged for the three days with a flotilla of Toyota Hiluxes engaged in aquatic warfare. They inch through the streets, maneuvering strategically in order to deliver broadsides of swamp-water to anyone that happens to be in range. Think of Nelson at The Battle of Trafalgar - but on land.


Sometimes I cycle 6km up the newly paved road to Eden Eco Lodge for a swim in the river. A $1 cup of tar-like Khmer Coffee and you're good to go. You might want to avoid the heavily inked blubber of white landwhales next door at Yellow Sun Twatpackers.

Salt flats coffee
Other days I cycle 7km in the opposite direction to the salt flats. A $1.50 cappuccino in a comfy mahogany deck chair with views across the flats to distant Bokor. Canny.



Terry's French mate Laurent had set up a new kayaking business but needed a few volunteers for a dry run. We paddled 4km downstream from Trapeang Ecotourism Village to a Mangrove Forest where the river meets the sea. Great day out for tourists.


Welsh Nick
Was lucky to have another two old shipmates pass through. Worked with Nick in 2017 in Hat Yai. He's currently in Hanoi and had flown to Siem Reap where he and his Irish mate (who works at the Irish Embassy in Hanoi) hired CRF250s and rode them to Kampot. Class.

I mention the Irish lad since when teaching expats (the vast majority of us) meet non-teaching expats .... well, it's like they walk on water. We're in awe. Bastards.

Canadian Steve
Then it was Canadian Steve's turn. Worked with him in 2012 in Bangkok. Despite the age gap (40 v 50) we have much in common. In fact he was the only person who suspected my life savings ($200k) had been invested in a scam back in 2011. He was absolutely right too. He's since published his own books on investing and remains another reluctant participant in the SEA-Ed-Biz game.

Happy Days with Ngee
Occasionally Ngee joins me at the Lotus. He's the best English speaker there though he's generally off organising businesses - many fingers many pies.

Terry and SreyTom
Terry's in the process of marrying SreyTom. It's a bureaucratic nightmare of epic proportions - enough to give me cold sweats. Adding to his woes was Spuds' 6-1 capitulation at SJP recently. It doesn't rain, it pours. They're currently in England fulfilling some administrative requirement I can't recall. My intellectual prowess falls short of being able to process inane govern-mental requirements. Good luck to them - they're a lovely couple.


Still going twice a week. Know a few gym-bros there now. Current weight 75kg. Six exercises. One hour. $1.25. Piss easy.

Bench         60kg    3x10
Shoulder     30kg    3x10
Squats         60kg    3x10
Dead lifts     60kg    3x10
Pull ups        10, 5, 5
Dips            3x10


Had to replace the laptop screen ($75 - not included in April's figure). Otherwise appear to have reached a $400/month equilibrium. February was the only month I consciously strove to cut costs and cantered in with a sub $300. Piss easy.

Sep $420
Oct $320
Nov $360
Dec $340
Jan $360
Feb $260
Mar $330
Apr $380

A tad under $3,000 or there about for 8 months in a tropical paradise? Aye, go on then. I should remind readers that this is a teetotal, celibate, motorbike free lifestyle - not everyone's cup of tea - but I wouldn't change a thing.


Thankfully the SCHB/BTC portfolio perked up in Q1 2023 after the no-lube bear of 2022. This has raised the SWR (safe withdrawal rate) to a smidge over $1,000/month.

Leaves a little breathing space for the inflation governments will be forced to unleash on their citizens in order to keep the unaffordable freeshit gravy train on track. It's either eye-watering tax increases, uber austerity, a sovereign debt default or inflation. Choose one. They're all shit but inflation is slightly less shit. So they'll go with that. Just don't sail too close to the wind and cut your cloth accordingly. Sorted.

Check out this excellent resource for ER SWR strategies.

Right, back to me hammock me like.

It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor. - Seneca


  1. Yet again a thoroughly enjoyable read marra. Keep it all coming, oh and I get the tee total and celibate bits but Bike free? Nah that’s sacrilege haha take care bro

    1. Aye, the motorbike hobby is the hardest thing to give up mate. But the roads in Cambo are dreadful so that forces the choice somewhat. Man, I miss riding the CBR500 around northrrn Thailand. Hope you're well marra.

  2. Enjoyed the read Steve, you seem to have got it right. Nice to see you are joining in some social activity. Hopefully catch up for a game of pool soon.

  3. Thanks for the update matey! Fabulous read as usual, you never disappoint!

  4. Scott H.. - LINE salubriously30 April 2023 at 21:32

    Soft... get a real job sailor