In Phnom Penh, I was able to catch up with a friend from my college days. He was a welcome sight; a familiar face after some weeks on the move was just what I needed. I’ve met a number of incredibly interesting and wonderful individuals during my travels, but meeting new people can be at times an effortful and monotonous exercise. For once, I could skip the acquaintances, go straight to the beers, and shoot the bull.
We engaged in our compulsory talk of basketball and provided each other with updates on the status of mutual friends back home and abroad. It was after he divulged the nature of his work did our conversation turn heavy.
My friend serves as the Editor-in-Chief at The Cambodia Daily, the leading English daily newspaper in Cambodia, and he had no shortage of revelatory stories on life in Cambodia. He shared some insight on the frightening machinations behind the country’s administration: ex-Khmer Rouge members holding positions of power in business and government; corruption rife in all sectors of public life. I was not surprised to learn of the countless letters he received from anonymous individuals expressing their displeasure with his exposés.
It was all some rather serious conversation, discussions I would never have imagined having during my time in Cambodia. However, it served as an appropriate and necessary prelude for my trip to Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields.