Walter Mason - author of Destination Saigon - takes us on a joyful and constantly fascinating literary journey in which Cambodia is vibrant and its people excited about the future while never denying their haunted past.
From the rich tropical city of Phnom Penh, to the wonders of Angkor Wat and the oddly loveable country town of Kampot to Sihanoukville named after the movie-directing, womanising former-king, Walter takes the reader on another colourful adventure in one of the world's hottest new destinations. With his friends, Simon (a taxi-driver and unlikely middle-aged gigolo) and Lan (a leggy Vietnamese transsexual) he explores Phnom Penh's underworld as they out his old friend Pek (an man of mysterious scars) in amongst the Chinese merchants and the proprietors of Vietnamese coffee houses and Khmer restaurants.
Resting in the bars and cafes that line the banks of the river, he notes the strong French influence from a colonial past. He also befriends Mak Suong, a gifted young writer who scandalised Cambodian society with his racy, wildly popular novel about the lives of gay men in Phnom Penh. Walter retreats to the cool courtyard of Wat Koh, an enormous Buddhist monastery in the centre of Phnom Penh, with his friends, both monks - Sim (a big, country lad who flirts with girls who come to visit!) and dreams of leaving the monastery to marry; and the morose, brooding Sakol who unloads his troubles to Walter, revealing how he is haunted by the demons of war, cruelty and murder from Cambodia's dark past.
In Destination Cambodia, Walter Mason charts an affectionate, intimate and deeply personal look at a Kingdom that has drawn him back again and again since his youth. Walter takes the reader straight to the heart of this famously unknowable country.
As heat, dust and weariness take their toll, he remains alive to the charms, and the seductions, of a place that was once a byword for misery and human suffering.