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Around The Sun: Ancient Oriental Wisdom

Steve Harrison tells of a hot and hectic night in a Cambodian hotel.

So you hire a guy who drives a motorcycle to get you across town. On the journey he runs down an old lady. The police come to get you. If you hadn’t hired the guy he wouldn’t have run the lady down, so it’s your fault.

*

It was a Tuesday morning. Five Japanese backpackers asked me to halve the price of the US$10 room because they were poor backpackers. Whoever heard of a poor Japanese backpacker? Despite a bad-gut feeling about them I had figured they would come into the bar, drink lots of good stuff, eat dinner, and I would have made some money out of them at the end of the day.

Wrong!

I was woken from sleep at 12:30 am. Could I come downstairs. Armed gunmen had robbed some Japanese girls. Be careful. The gunmen were still somewhere in the hotel.

I headed down the first flight of stairs into a confrontation on the fourth floor. There were police of every size. They were checking a young Cambodian man, looking to see if he had a tattoo on his shoulder. There was a lot of finger pointing and heavy gesturing. The five Japanese girls were talking away, and everyone else was talking in different languages at the same time. Declan, our Irish security guy, filled me in on the details. The girls had been held up apparently by three armed Cambodian men. They had been tied, bound and gagged.

We went to their room. Their bags on the bed. Clothing had been dumped all over the place. Somehow though the scene of crime didn't look right.

The girls said they had left the room door open. Three tall guys had come in, threatening them with guns. About US$400 had been stolen, along with a Walkman and other electronic items.

We all marched back downstairs. The group had become larger. Other curious guests were joining in.

I was told the gunmen were probably still hiding in a locked room. The policemen told me they were leaving. It seemed as though as far as they were concerned the gunmen could stay on the loose. It would be too dangerous to tackle them. Best to allow them to slip away.

I was flabbergasted. Leave them on the loose so they could attack some other guest?

I saw that Declan had a wicked glint in his eye. He offered to go upstairs and get the robbers. I went into the bar and grabbed a broken pool cue. I was mad enough to want to go with him. We inspected the checking-in sheet to see which rooms were supposed to be empty. Then I grabbed the master key.

This was about to become a long night.

(To be continued next Monday)

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