Tales From Abroad: Cambodian Killing Fields

By: Kevin Sheffler

In the year 2014, I quit my job at ESPN and convinced a buddy of mine to travel to Southeast Asia with me. In Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, I thought I would find the solution to all of my life’s problems. Instead I found a disturbing but wildly fascinating network of underground entertainment. And after I hit Michael Gallo’s car in an Aldi parking lot, I was pretty much forced to write about it.

Thailand is well known for its illicit activity. There’s no shortage of lady boys, drug use, prostitution, and various forms of sex tourism if you know where to look for it. But if you want to see some REAL fucked up shit, you need to go to Cambodia.

Cambodians are fascinated with a culture of death. Over the course of an hour, I saw a live elephant electrocuted to death while onlookers gambled on how long it would stay alive, and managed to see an actual cockfight which, much to my dismay, I learned was televised on a local equivalent of ESPN. While I have always held certain presumptions about cockfighting, I discovered they were way off after watching an actual fight. For one thing it’s less intense than you would think. The birds become entangled for a few seconds at a time, before their owners separate them and put them back at a predetermined starting point. That isn’t to say cockfighting isn’t violent. Within minutes, one bird was missing a beak and its leg was badly broken (and at a disgusting 90-degree angle), but it kept fighting until it became stiff as a board and fell over dead on the spot. Surely what the paying television customer was looking for.

In Cambodia, you can essentially do anything you want if you have the money. And they love Americans, which is surprising after our “exploits” in their country in the 60s and 70s. One of the most surprising things you can do for a relatively low amount of money?

For only $200 you can shoot an Asian cow with a bazooka. And this isn’t some pussy, shoulder-mounted rocket, we’re talking bazookas left over from the aforementioned American exploits. Now, at the risk of sounding medically technical, these cows explode if you’re lucky enough to get a direct hit. But what’s most disturbing is if you add another $200 (for a total of $400 US), instead of a cow, you can shoot a Cambodian criminal with a .50 caliber machine gun. Luckily I wasn’t feeling particularly homicidal that day so I settled for watching a cow explode. To truly find yourself, one must shoot livestock in Southeast Asia. I think Confucius said that.

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