Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I received an email yesterday from a pal in England telling me that a close friend of hers, and "one of the good guys," had been murdered in Kompong Thom earlier this week. In the English-language press here the story appeared today that local Fisheries official Ek Heng, described as "a very gentle man," had been hacked to death with a meat cleaver in his office around lunchtime on Monday. A very sad loss indeed and one which immediately brought to mind my own great friend, Sok Thea, who passed away in late 2000, aged just 29 and way before it was his time to go. Thea (pictured right) was a visionary, ahead of his time, streets ahead of his rivals in the field of adventure tourism and an enthusiastic fan of ancient Khmer architecture and culture. He possessed boundless energy and was a real friend but he couldn't live with his personal demons and took his own life. Even now I find it hard to talk about him without feeling an overwhelming sense of loss. As I was thinking about him, by pure coincidence, I received a skype message from his brother Sam in Siem Reap and then another close friend of both Thea and myself, Phalla who is now working in Laos, also skyped me. It was good to talk to them both and to recall some of the happy memories we shared with Thea, who none of us will ever forget.