February 17, 2014

This can be a very strange country sometimes. I wrote recently about the theft of some Buddha relics from a very sacred temple just north of Phnom Penh. Well, they’ve arrested a man for the theft, called Keo Reaksmey, who reportedly believes he is “the brother of the sun.”

Keo – a gentle and kind young man, according to neighbours – would put on a white robe and sash usually reserved for nuns, and would present offerings to the sun each day at dawn. So far, just a typical loony. What amazed me is that local officials apparently believe he was given powers of invisibility and superhuman speed.

Bot Pheakday, director of a school in Khvav commune, where Reaksmey studied, was quoted by local papers as saying that Reaksmey was thought to have inherited the “powers” from his father.

“This man could run very fast, and turn invisible sometimes. I think he had magic powers,” he said, with a straight face. “His father was also wanted by the police in the past, but he always evaded capture and disappeared.”

Meanwhile, in another village in another part of the country, thousands of people are flocking to pray to eight pythons they believe can bring good luck and ward off illness.

After the pythons were caught and handed over to wildlife officers, residents of the remote village began reporting high levels of anxiety and having nightmares about the snakes, according to the district police chief.

Word apparently spread that the eight pythons were deities that had been protecting the villagers for more than 100 years.

A seven-day “ceremony of happiness” has been organised to raise the money needed to build a new habitat, back near where they were found.

A villager told a local paper that they “do not know if they are pythons or holy pythons, but villagers have had nightmares telling them that these are the deities,” he said. “Some villagers are ill right now. If the pythons are not taken back to the same place, the whole village will be faced with a big problem.” Er, yes, quite.

And finally, a group of international UFO fanatics has announced plans to build an alien embassy here in Cambodia. These people, known as Raelians, believe life on Earth is the scientifically engineered creation of an advanced alien civilisation, called the Elohim, and their mission on the planet is to prepare humanity for their eventual return.

One of the main goals of Raelism is to build a $20 million embassy for the Elohim. They want to build it in Israel, but their symbol – a swastika enveloped in a Star of David – means the movement is banned there.

So Raelians are looking eastward and have applied to the Council of Ministers in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Hun Sen. A spokesman for the Council of Ministers said that although he was not aware of the application, he would welcome an extraterrestrial movement in Cambodia. “To me, this would be great if we can start an alien movement or institution in Cambodia. We are not alone, my friend. When I tell my friends at work, nobody believes me.”

The very sensible-looking embassy for aliens proposed for Cambodia

The very sensible-looking embassy for aliens proposed for Cambodia

The group’s leader, Frenchman Claude Vorilhon, founded the cult in 1974. Controversies over attempts at human cloning in Europe have sadly led to Vorilhon’s exile from France, where there is a warrant out for his arrest.

Despite the movement’s expressed alignment with Buddhist values, since its first seminar in 2006, it has only managed to attract 10 adherents in Cambodia. So perhaps the country isn’t quite as strange as it occasionally seems.


4 Responses to “Oddities”

  1. DTHayhurst said

    Ah, the Raelians (very long, very heartfelt sigh)….

    It was the summer of my sixteenth year. The gods seemed to be smiling on me with a very pretty, very wasted girl at an outdoor concert in Quebec City that I had met while we were selling paintings at adjacent sections along a narrow alley in the Vieux Quartier.

    Things were getting hotter and heavier than my adolescent ass had ever experienced, to be sure, as we canoodled and more under a blanket, next to another amorous couple she knew next to us.

    She was THREE years older than me! just think back to being 16… yeah, exactly.

    But I had to, simply HAD to ask about her rather… unconventional pendant necklace, never having seen such an … intriguing swastika/ Star of David ensemble before.

    This touched off a discussion on the fundamental tenets of Raelism, which I’d never heard of before , but which seemed to have a fair few adherents in Quebec at the time.

    The other couple listened in, an increasingly heated argument started, and what i had thought might be the best opportunity I was likely to get to relieve myself of my increasingly burdensome virginity (about to return to my all boys school) evaporated like the morning dew as she stormed off.

    Founder Claude Vorilhon is sort of the David Icke of France, (other than being on the lam from his homeland, that is.) Apparently a fairly well-regarded sports journalist before joining the Tinfoil Hat Brigade. For some reason, the woods of southern France seem to be full of these sorts, convinced that the Motherships will be landing any day now.

    You’d think the Pacific coast would be the Canadian centre of Doomsday cultists, but it would seem to be Quebec for some reason. Remember the Solar Temple people in the 90s? There were simultaneous suicided at their Quebec and Swiss centres in 1994. Must be down to provincial tax incentives, or something

    I could see Raelianism taking off in the Phillipines if they can’t make a go of it in Cambodia. Not sure about snake worship.

  2. i’ve never heard of the raelians until i read this. very strange… wouldn’t people be suspicious of such a cult if their founder is exiled from his home country and their is a warrant for his arrest?

  3. Dave, great story – I feel for you. Searchingforsubstance, sadly this country is very accepting of people who may not have the best interests of Cambodians at heart. A bit more suspicion wouldn’t go amiss.

    • DTHayhurst said

      From the Department of Information I Could Really Have Fucking Used Beforehand….


      “Orgies are not a part of standard Raelian practices. However, Raelians tend to be very sensual and forward people. They hug and kiss one another at meetings. They frequently dress in revealing clothes. They touch, massage and caress, but only among consenting participants.”

      Ah (whatever your name was) … I’ve never thought about Pernod or Aldo Nova the same way since!

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