I didn’t much like being in Cambodia the first time I went there in early 2014. Led by the most unbearable tour guide imaginable* in a small group made up mostly of middle-aged Australian couples with whom the only thing I had in common was a nationality, I experienced what in retrospect was most likely culture shock. And for a time I wondered if it was because of the effects of the Khmer Rouge genocide on the country. Such a savage and profound event leaves scars on people who endure it, and on the nation itself.
Nonetheless, even though my mother gave me First They Killed My Father to read before we left on this trip, I resisted it. I didn’t want to read misery porn, which any biography about the Khmer Rouge must surely be. It took these last few years for me to finally work up to reading it. Along with a little assistance from a Dateline special and Sue Perkins travelling along the Mekong. Continue reading