At the end of June 2016 I flew from Bangkok to Siem Reap in Cambodia to visit the nearby temples of Angkor Wat. My wife was away on a study trip and I fancied a bit of a holiday. However my mood had been somewhat curdled by the result of the Brexit referendum a few days earlier. This is the deeply embittered photo essay which resulted. I didn’t have a blog at the time so am posting it here now for posterity. រីករាយជាមួយ.
I’ve come to Cambodia to visit Siem Reap (pronounced with a sort of nasal burp at the end) and Angkor Wat.
This is a ubiquitous banner promoting the ruling party of Cambodia, who are a bit like the UK’s Conservative Party, at least in that they’re apparently currently facing a massive political crisis. It’s odd to see this banner everywhere a few weeks after having visited Cuba, because in theory Cambodia is a more-than-one-party state, but in practice the opposition gets kicked around a great deal by the government and its media. Unlike the UK then, although I don’t know if there is any equivalent to Blairites in the Cambodian opposition party, and I don’t know the Cambodian phrase for asking about this.
This puts me in mind of the well-known Anti-Nazi League sticker with someone depositing a swastika in the bin. I was hoping to escape from thoughts of UK politics but so far it isn’t going very well. Actually you see quite a few other-way-round swastikas in Cambodia and Thailand, emblazoned on t-shirts and so on. I always feel a bit put out by this but maybe there are some symbols that we have in our culture that remind Cambodians of the Khmer Rouge. As they say in Cambodian, “អ្នកមិនដែលដឹង”.
This is a list of all the people in Sunderland who voted Labour in 2015 but chose to vote Leave in the referendum. It’s in Cambodian so no-one can track them down on Twitter and ask them what the fuck they were thinking.
“If you vote leave…your husband will probably lose his job at Nissan. It’ll close down. And the Tories…if Johnson and Gove take over they’re gonna have no mercy whatsoever on the NHS. None.”
This is what life was like in Brussels before last Thursday, according to Brexit voters.
This looks immaculate, but there was dog poo, actual dog poo, on the floor, and obviously I’d taken my sandals (crocs) off, and I nearly stood on it! Bloody EU.
There’s a link being passed around right now among(st) right-wing idiots about a EUROPEAN SUPERSTATE! It seems to be particularly provoking rage among(st) those who are too dim to remember that they actually voted last week. I’m not into IQ tests but I think a lot of the people who voted Leave would probably score well below your average painted statue.
I’ve kind of gone off Corbyn.
This is a photo from the pro-Corbyn rally that took place a couple of days ago in Parliament Square, a rally that all the main news channels, but particularly the BBC, chose to ignore, the bastards.
I apologise for the previous caption, it was unduly cynical of me. Somewhere here I will explain what I think of the current Labour leadership debacle. I think I might put it next to a photo of a monkey eating a banana.
Looking at this kinda reminds me that Julian Cope has a fantastic (and apparently solidly-researched) theory about how places like Angkor Wat, Stonehenge etc all got built (and thus, presumably, how a lot of historic decisions came to be made). I think a lot of the voters on June 23rd may have simply been drunk.
When I arrive (unplanned) the class happen to be drilling the phrase “he is ugly”. I teach them to say “We’ve all had enough of experts” in perfect estuary accents.
Hooray for Mr Samet! Who has never heard of Brexit and thinks the UK must be a great place to live.
Aren’t all schools…oh never mind.
The complex at Angkor Wat is a representation of the cosmos in miniature. It’s not actually particularly miniature. That’s not meant as a criticism.
This is unusual – a Downfall video which actually uses the exact words of those being parodied.
Oh Jesus it’s just started raining torrentially again. The rain is actually very welcome, as this part of Cambodia has just been through a massive drought, there are even emergency appeal collecting jars in local bars, where foreigners (like me, for example) drink beer made with local Cambodian water. The jars are for collecting money, not water.
Which reminds me that if there is one single thing that damns this referendum to hell for all eternity it’s the fact that neither side at any point made any reference to the changing climate and what we’re going to do about it. The Leave side didn’t because it was led by three climate liars (Johnson, Farage and Gove) and the Remain side didn’t because it was shit. At least Caroline Lucas exists.
This was actually even more peaceful than it looks, because there was some Cambodian classical music playing all around the temple, it was basically like this. Which calmed me down a bit as I’d been spending the last few days mostly listening to this.
Speaking of music, although it’s not clear from the photo, those colourful lights were actually flashing and all the statues were bumping their hips to something that sounded a lot like Carly Rae Jepsen.
By the way, if you go to Angkor Wat and you don’t see any of these, you’re not in Angkor Wat. Tell your tuktuk driver you want to go to THE TEMPLES.
#Brexit is the opposite of enlightenment.
Some of the temple things are still being built after almost 1,200 years. Probably some more bloody corrupt EU shenanigans.
I think at this point I might go for a drink.
Local agricultural workers discussing Article 50 in some detail.
This pricing policy may have been determined by the Cambodian equivalent of #Ukip.
He’s been this way ever since the Sunderland result was announced.
Some wag on Twitter posted two maps side by side. The first showed the areas which mostly voted for Brexit, the second the areas where Mad Cow disease had a major impact in 2000. They matched up pretty much perfectly.
Still though, at least our language still dominates the world https://www.google.com.kh/search?q=leksonal&oq=leksonal&aqs=chrome..69i57.6036j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8.
I don’t know what this thing is but I suspect that if you bought one for a Cambodian peasant for his birthday he’d be so overjoyed he’d happily vote whichever way you told him to.
One of these two men is the Prime Minister Hun Sen, the other is almost certainly the bloke who with great ceremony ordered the planting of the tree you can see to the left of the photo.
There is more meaningful debate going on between these two cows about what they’re going to have for dinner than took place between the two sides during the entire referendum farce.
Can’t look at that bloke pushing that trolley/cart thing without thinking it might be a ballot box.
Although I’m working hard and having some success at immersing myself in the here and now, unfortunately this puts me in mind of the recent referendum in the UK over membership of the European Union, the result of which had an impact on global financial markets.
Another result of the recent referendum in the UK over membership of the European Union is that I briefly contemplate buying and drinking one of these.
This looks a bit like a wedding cake. Tomorrow it’s my birthday. I hope they make me a cake, although I don’t know who they might be.
These people look like they might be British. Maybe I could invite them for a birthday drink. Then again perhaps not. Over these few days I speak to lots of Europeans and Americans, but find I have no appetite for making conversation with my ‘fellow Brits’. Alternatively, they could be German. They do appear to be marching in step. Actually here I was just playing with the focus.
More than one person I have spoken to online in the last couple of days was (shouldn’t that be were?!) of the opinion that a split inside the Labour Party is now inevitable.
References to goings-on in British politics abound.
The three branches on the left seem to be making a bid for the other side. Maybe they’re ‘Blairites’.
One aspect of the situation with Corbyn is that there are so many things we know now about how people make voting decisions, insights gained from cognitive science, that effective political campaigns take advantage of and ineffective ones don’t. In the (OH GOD NO) referendum Labour had nothing with which it could respond to “take back control”, a metaphor which reached right into people’s deepest aspirations and crushed all rational argument. In the final debate last Wednesday Johnson and the others used that phrase 114 times. That’s why, much to what we now know to be Johnson’s absolute horror, they won. I don’t think there’s anyone in the Corbyn leadership who has a notion of that. They think it’s all about putting a more reasoned argument. I know all this sounds horribly Blairite, but if anyone fancies a who-hates-the-Blairites-more competition I’m game.
Two things which are an absolute must-read for anyone vaguely interested in the psychology of voting are Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow by Daniel Kahnemann and pretty much anything by George Lakoff. Actually those are both quite entertaining names for psychologists to have. Thinking Fast and Slow is a particularly important book to read to understand why we can’t bring ourselves to think about climate change.
Around this point I get talking to a German couple who are so level-headed and sensible in their assessment of Brexit and the refugee situation I do actually start to feel a little teary. “Na ja, naturlich wir können hilfen. Wir müssen hilfen!”. I tell them I’m thinking of doing a kind of photo essay where I combine photos of Angkor Wat with my thoughts and feelings about Brexit and they seem to think it’s a great idea. Shortly after this we switch into English as I am starting to worry that they think I am slightly mad.
I point out to my new continental friends that already, four days after the vote, most British people I know and come across online are talking about other countries they could go and live in. The Syrians have had five years of civil war and after less than a week of mild political instability we all want to take refuge elsewhere.
Me and the Germans are so engrossed in talking about politics that we manage to get horribly lost . We soon disentangle ourselves from the labyrinth using our collaborative skills and European ingenuity.
I think this is my favourite photo I’ve ever taken. It shows that despite the disappointment and despair occasioned by the Brexit vote, there are always cracks where hope can enter. Unfortunately this one is in Cambodia, nowhere near the UK, which is f*cked.
Primates actually peel bananas in a different way from we humans. When I say “we humans” I’m not including anyone who voted to leave the European Union.
You might even say that monkeys are “experts” at eating bananas.
According to something Russell Brand said, chimps (I know these are not chimps) never live in troops of more than 85 members. Is that the answer to our predicament of how to live together? I’d imagine inbreeding would be a problem. If the UK spurns all economic and social intercourse with what we may now as well go back to referring to as the continent, within a few years we’ll all start to look like our intensely horsey Royal Family, who as is well-known only maintained the fecundity of their own gene pool by irrigating it with European blood (not actually blood).
Buddhist monkey contemplating eternal suffering caused by imminent ill-advised EU withdrawal.
Ancestral wisdom of a greater species: abandoning one’s troupe is a form of suicide.
If only those people who used the Brexit vote as a gesture of anger against the political establishment had restricted themselves to sticking their tongues out of their mouths like this monkey. That woulda really stuck it to the man without the need to sabotage our future by destroying relations with our neighbours.
“My God’s got no nose…”
I was very surprised to see your mum there.
“Nice composition, Richard”.
The queue to apply for German passports stretched from Chesham Place to just outside Siem Reap.
The process of industrial decline soon accelerated.
The first script here is Khmer (Cambodian), the second Thai, and the third…some shit tribe, a civilisation that voted itself out of existence many eons ago and whose “language” nobody now remembers or speaks, no-one of any importance anyway.
The final ruins of a collapsed civilisation, one which once conquered vast areas of the globe but now barely survives on income from foreign tourists. An economic backwater and geopolitical nonentity. Some people will blame Nicola Sturgeon, of course.
The Americans who took this picture had never heard of Article 50.
“How am I voting? Well, stay, obviously. Remain. I may be only three days old (and a monkey) but I’m not a f*cking idiot!”
“350 million pounds does sound like an awful lot of money”.
The English Defence League took to the streets in order to physically obstruct the invasion of foreign marine life.
Six days too late. Mate.
Somebody did make me a cake.