Where to start ?
Ok…let’s start with my 7 hours in “Jail” and lets just keep it brief huh ? On Tuesday I had a run-in with serial parking offender out the front of our house that turned in to a visit to the local cop shop that turned in to me being driven to the Immigration Police for “further questioning”. Basically as I am foreigner they had to take me to the IP and initially everyone was all smiles and “don’t worry this wont take a moment”. I sorted out the beef with the original party easily and they left but I was still stuck at the cop-shop surrounded by increasingly obstructionist uniform-less policemen. One of them spoke reasonable English and in the process of questioning me he ascertained that I did not have a work permit book ( who does in this country ??!! ) Of course, I have a current Business Class visa but that is only good if I do not work. Once I start working I am supposed to have a work permit which means I then have to pay tax etc. Confused yet ? Anyways this arsehole copper said he wanted my passport,visa and permit delivered to the cop-shop or I was simply not leaving and he meant it. Every time I moved a step this way or that…..5 cops would move the same way. IN true Khmer style by now several hours have gone past and Leakhana and her mum have turned up to help out. A couple more hours then passes, I am getting tired and they finally allow me to get in car with them to go back to our house. I sit in the back seat with a guy on either side of me and two in the front. Holstered guns are poking me in the ribs and walkie talkies are squawking. I grab my ppassport etc but I still do not have that permit so I am not sure how this is going to turn out. Some minutes I am laughing at the hilarity of it all and others I am trying to ascertain just how much shit I am in. Phalla turns up at the cop-shop and starts weaving some magic , Tra is on the phone threatening to send in the military ( he works directly with the Minister of Defenses family remember ….) and Leakhana is spitting death eyes at the cops. Hell hath no fury like a Khmer woman whose hus band is being illegally detained I can tell you. ANYWAYYYYYYYY to cut a long story short eventually I tell Leakhana I just want to pay my way out of this mess and the negotiations begin. Around 5pm….some 7 hours after the initial event….I walk out a free man with passport and handshakes all around .
How much I can hear you asking ? I was ready for around $500. It cost $40. FUCKKKKK. Why didn’t hey just ask me for the money 7 hours ago !?
The very next day I am off down to Sihanoukville for Radiation training at Sihanoukeville Port. As part of our new contract with the US Govt, I needed to get some of my sub-contractors trained up by the manufacturer of the new RPM system and I can tell you, it was propeller hats at 10 paces. Mike from TSA Systems did a great job of keeping it pretty simple but without an Electrical Engineering Degree, I was struggling. Eventually they brought out the radiation samples which had been flown over specially for testing and these were apparently so sensitive that they would, in the words of the US Contractor present ” create an international incident if they went missing”. So you can imagine everyone’s surprise and angst when we looked over to see the boxes gone. We then noticed one of the paving workers ( a female in hello kitty pajamas and rubber gumboots no less ) had picked up the boxes to use them for rubbish and was walking off across the port with them !! Rather amusing to say the least.
I am back in Phnom Penh now but I can tell you…it has been a mixed bag this week and I am bloody exhausted.