Oldies in CambodiaMay 27, 2007
First off, I’m 45, slim (no beer belly), have most of my hair and believe myself to be reasonably attractive. No, I am not offering myself up for matchmaking or lonely hearts. It is just to let you know that I do not look the same as the people I am about to defend/champion. My first trip to Cambodia saw me frequenting lots of bars and there was a noticeable link between a lot of the men drinking therein. A general heftiness, poor sense of style, gruff manners and an age range going all the way up to eighty.
The typical ex-pat perhaps. Obviously it’s the type of bars I frequent. I live in London where people are graded according to looks, clothes, status and age. I realise this applies in most places but London has got it in spades. If I were to go into a lively bar here in London I would probably be the oldest one in the room.
I would be surrounded by twenty somethings and the pitch of rabid conversation would quickly remind me of a gannet colony. It can be very cliquey and if going out alone you can very soon feel like a weird old loser – out of place and not at all welcome. Some of the more traditional type pubs are still around, but they are a dying breed, and they generally lack good looking women.
In Cambodia I found myself sharing the bar with men much older than me. Men that I wouldn”t normally be in contact with. Men with different lifestyles, attitudes and values than mine. Men who still wanted to have a good time. Men, moreover, who had lived unusual lives. Men with a story or two to tell. And experience. I prefer not to judge people in conversation.
Even if the person has views I find abhorrent. You can find out a whole lot more this way and I have witnessed people unfettered eventually tying themselves up in knots until they realise they are talking rubbish. All it took was a prompt here and there and a willingness to listen. In Cambodia you need to try hard if you don”t wish to talk at a bar.
There is always someone who will greet you and say, “All-right?” And so it was that I found myself often in the company of older men. Girls would sometimes crop up in conversation or even round your neck during the evening but in general I liked the maturity shown by a lot of guys. I realised upon returning to London that I missed this aspect of social life. And I realised also how boring young people can be. How over excitable, un-cool and often annoying they were. Their strongly held beliefs and ideals were always untempered by experience. This isn’t a rule and there are no end of exceptions and it certainly wouldn’t stop me from talking to those younger than me, but in Cambodia the tables were turned somewhat. It was refreshing to feel so comfortable again. Reading back makes me think I should have a point to all this rambling. Something definite to state. I guess reading posts on this forum sparked it off. When some angry troll attacks the ex-pats there is often a reference to old age. The inference being that old equals pathetic. That old people shouldn”t enjoy life.
That old should wither up and die in their respective countries. I guess I’m trying to say that if you hold those views I disagree.