Vipers and other snakes

December 25, 2012

I was delighted to read recently that nine new species of creature
previously unknown to science have been discovered in Cambodia in the
past year, out of a total of 126 stunning species discovered in the
greater Mekong region as a whole.

Perhaps the coolest of these is the ruby-eyed green pit viper, which
as well as having a great name, looks completely awesome.

Ruby-eyed Green Pit Viper

Ruby-eyed Green Pit Viper

However, it’s going to have to watch its step. Cambodia apparently has
192 critically endangered and vulnerable species, according to a
report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These
include the magnificent pangolin, of which I shall speak in the

Most of the newly discovered creatures were small and unprepossessing; frogs and bugs and so on, which are completely fine, of course, but which probably wouldn’t get anyone to come out here on safari.

Sadly, there is no shortage of unpleasant creatures in human form in
this country. The government, for starters. And every week sees yet
another elderly European in court for sex offences against children.

I was thinking about the human flotsam that washes up on these sunny
shores the other day when a friend of mine from a prurient British
newspaper turned up in town, doing a story on an English woman who had
died, on her honeymoon, back in January.

At the recent inquest on 27-year-old Kristy Cadman-Jones, her
31-year-old solicitor husband was pointedly asked by the coroner: “Did
you kill your wife on honeymoon?”

The man had claimed he had woken one morning in the couple’s Phnom
Penh hotel room to find his bride cold and dead. He claimed to know
nothing about her death, until finally admitting that they had met a
couple in a bar the night before who had given them a bag of cocaine,
and that Kristy might just possibly have had some of it.

Distraught, he nevertheless managed within hours to call their
insurance company in the UK to claim on her life insurance, although
he later said it wasn’t him, and he didn’t know who had made the call.
He also had her body embalmed within 48 hours, destroying any chances
of toxicology reports being done back home. The coroner ruled that she
had died of a heroin overdose, his finding bolstered by a report that
the police here had found a number of syringes littering the room. My
journo friend spoke to hotel staff, who confirmed that the couple
seemed “permanently out of it.”



Now, I’ve been in one or two bars in Phnom Penh, and I’d say the
chances of meeting strangers handing out large bags of cocaine is,
sadly, absolutely zero. However, every year a number of foreign
junkies wind up dead here in cheap hotels, unused to the purity of the
smack this close to the Golden Triangle, and on a major transhipment
route. Even the Lonely Planet guide warns travellers not to mistake
heroin for cocaine, although you’d have to be the Number One stupidest
person on the planet to do that.

While I’m sorry for the dead woman, I’m irritated as hell at the way
that people use this poor country as a playground. It doesn’t help its
reputation. And it doesn’t help the place when sleazy junkies like
Damian Cadman-Jones think they can waltz in, do whatever they want,
and get away with it.

I definitely prefer ruby-eyed green pit vipers.


3 Responses to “Vipers and other snakes”

  1. Mark said

    I would have found him guilty from the photo alone.

  2. Well I guess it’s a good thing you’re not a magistrate or anything … oh, wait…

  3. Ohm Lavine said

    He looks like a new species of KING RAT.

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