Tom Knox Books

Lost Goddess: Further Themes

The Hands of Gargas

These cave-wall “stencils” of human hands, often disfigured – with fingers removed – are one of the great mysteries of Ice Age art. Read more about them here

Many people have speculated as to why the hands are shown as disfigured. I offer my own theory in Bible of the Dead. Here’s a brace of pictures. There are many more on the Net.

Anlong Veng – last lair of the Khmer Rouge

I’ve long wanted to visit this remote jungle region, in far north west Cambodia – because this is where the Khmer Rouge retreated in the late 70s, following the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. In the hilly, hostile jungle, hard by the Dangrek Escarpment and the Thai frontier, Pol Pot and his henchmen erected a gruesome Maoist statelet, where they continued to terrorise the locals into the 1990s.

I finally made it to Anlong Veng in 2010. I saw the strange house of Ta Mok, AKA The Butcher, Pol Pot’s comrade-in-arms and Number 2. Next to his ugly concrete villa was a man-made poisonous lake, built at the behest of Ta Mok himself. Then I went to Pot Pot’s last house, a hideous breezeblock hovel in the precise middle of nowhere. I’m glad he eked out his last miserable years in this silent, desolate spot.

Lastly, I went to see his grave, where, in 1998, following a kangaroo trial by his “comrades”, and an execution or a suicide (or a sordid fatal illness – take your pick), the dead tyrant was brusquely interred, after a hasty and botched cremation.

In one of the great ironies of human history, the world’s most violently atheist dictator has become a demigod – some superstitious Thais have erected a spirit house by the grave, where people come, to pray, to the Marxist ghost. They claim to get luck in the lottery thereby.

Here are a few of the photos I took of this wildly atmospheric and richly sinister area of Cambodia.


Cambodian Witchcraft

All true. All of it true! Here’s a story about the horrors of Khmer Black Magic a witchcraft so scary it frightens the Thai army.

Here’s more about the kun krak. Scroll down to the concluding paragraphs, if you must.

And here is a picture of some spooky Khmer magic with a dead calf.

Angkor Wat

What to say about this, maybe the most beautiful city in the world, certainly the most beautiful city in the pre-modern world? I love Angkor Wat. Writing this book was a great excuse to go back again and again. And again. Virtually all the details quoted in the book are true – the kinnarees, the university, the boiled snake on sale in the courtyards, the enormous kapok trees, the diamonds in the foreheads of the Bayon faces.

Here is just one picture.

Spider Sellers of Skuon

Again, all the details about weird food in Indochina are authentic: from the river algae of Luang to the spider sellers of Skuon, to the balat of Angkor and the fried cockroaches of Bangkok. I tried them all, and then I wrote several articles about it.

Here are a few pics to make you feel intensely queasy.

The Cham Des Bondons

Naturally, all of this stuff is based on fact. There really is an amazing crop of Neolithic stones in this forgotten part of La France Profonde – in the emptiest departement in the country. And beneath these stones, or thereabouts, a Victorian scholar called Pierre Barthelemy Prunieres, along with his colleagues, really did find puzzling and troubling evidence of trepanation, alongside skeletons exhibiting horrible wounds.

Read about Prunieres here

Read about Trepenation on this Wiki page

Here are the lonely, sorrowful stones of the Cham des Bondons.

Balagezong

Yunnan in southern China is one of the most amazing places I have ever been. It is exactly as described in the book, from the chilly blue lakes of Bitahai, to the “heaven villages” of Deqen, to the yak-wandered streets of old Zhongdian (alias Shangri-La).

And then there’s Balagezong. I saw God here. Really. I did. I’m not sure if it was the tea or the altitude, or God, but I saw God.

Here is a splendid picture of Balagezong, by the explorer and photographer Lucian Muresan.

Xie Xie