“Honestly, in Cambodia you can shoot a cow with a rocket launcher for $200.”
It would be almost ten years from the first time I heard this story until I solved the case. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you’ve never heard about the greatest travel myth in South East Asia; can you shoot a cow in Cambodia? my story went something like this:
“Honestly, in Cambodia you can shoot a cow with a rocket launcher for $200,” said the backpacker at the bar whose name I have long since forgotten.
Really? I wasn’t convinced, yet this wouldn’t be the last person to tell me this story. Again and again People would tell me you could shoot a cow in Cambodia, but no one I met had ever done it or knew anyone who had actually done it.
When I eventually visited Cambodia earlier this year, I knew one of my goals would be to find out if you could shoot a cow in Cambodia. My plan was a simple one, go to the army range where you can pay to shoot guns. After mingling with the tourists and the other people there I would strike up a conversation with whoever was running the joint and ask them if you can shoot a cow.
The first problem we had when we arrived in Phnom Penh from seeing Angkor Wat temple was finding the army range. Our tour guide assured us he knew where it was, but it didn’t take long to realise he was talking s#%t. When we did finally get there after almost two hours on the road the place was completely deserted. There were just three bored soldiers sitting down at a table playing cards. They eyed me up, took out a plastic folder with pictures of various guns and the price tag for shooting off some rounds and asked me which one I wanted to use. I felt like an idiot.
I had come to this place with absolutely no intention of shooting a gun. I don’t even like guns. I flipped through the folder for curiosities sake; there at the back was a picture of a rocket launcher with the price tag of $350. Out of my price range, and what’s more my attempts at striking up a conversation was going nowhere. The soldier just looked blank when I asked about if you could shoot a cow. I went back to flipping through the book and settled on a pistol. Five minutes later I left the base with a ringing in my ears and a piece of paper that I had managed to shoot just once (Clint Eastwood I was not).
I left Cambodia and returned to Jakarta having completely failed to achieve my goal. Two weeks later I was recounting my story about wanting to find out if you could shoot a cow in Cambodia to my friend when.
“My friend shot a cow in Cambodia.”
Here we go again I thought, but I was to be proven wrong.
“It’s a gimmick. Most people don’t realise the amount of kickback from a rocket launcher and so completely miss the cow. My friend tried three times and didn’t get it, so in the end he demanded an AK. He figured by that point he’d already paid for the cow.”