When I arrive I have an executive suite, there are rose petals in the toilet bowl, and a choice of condoms, sex oils and "repressed towels" on the mini-bar menu and the obligatory bowl of fruit, this time full of familiar western fruit except for the one I would probably call some sort of custard-apple.
Driving here, west into the sunset, I could see the rice fields in the valleys, strip farming, and many of the fields were empty. Whether this was that the crops weren't yet ripe - and how many harvests do they get a year when the temperature barely drops below 20°C - or whether the people had been drafted somewhere else, I wasn't sure. I heard of people being forcibly moved from their farms to go plant trees on the central reservation of the highways around the cities, but I don't know how true this is.
There are some people in the fields, wearing blue overalls and the wide conical hats like upturned fruit bowls. There are abandoned terraces on the hillsides, in this place the greenery is coming back. Sometimes you can see whole hills in demolition, devastated hills blasted so recently that there are still a couple of trees clinging to the hilltop, although the sides have been precipitously removed.
Wild rice grows at the roadside, tall and elegant and the heads of rice are segmented and drooping, illustrations of showers, or prettified tapeworms.
Past fields of banana palms, slightly browned at the edges of their leaves. Their fruits are shrouded in blue plastic bags, thrust into artificial condoms to ripen seedless in another part of the world.
In the morning, we drive over dead rats on the road on our way to the government owned petrochemical corporation. They are proud of their company, proud to be set apart from the rural background. They feed us with fish stomachs, this is a delicacy, a rubbery tube that tastes of pepper. They graciously allow our driver to join us at the lunch table as there is nowhere else to eat in this one-horse town.