Carl with anxious Cambodian soldier. Angkor Wat, Cambodia, 1995

Khymers and Carl

On the speed boat from Malaysia to Siem Reap,the small city on the outskirts of Angkor Wat,I met Carl,an American who lived and worked in Japan. Because of the noisy passengers in the fifty seat cabin we sat on deck.Carl  joined the Marines to serve in Vietnam. “But,” he said, “my brother was there so they made me a cook.” A stateside cook for three years.

“You lucked out,” I said. “How so?” he asked. I told him war can make you crazy.

One sweltering afternoon at Angkor Wat we played frisbee in a laThree irregular Cambodian troops with Cambodian army soldier.  Angkor Wat, Cambodia, 1995.rge dry field. As we tossed the red plastic disk to each other Carl smoked a fat joint bought at a local market. Even with the scorching heat we had fun.

“Nice catch,buddy.”

Thank you,much.”

And so it went,back and forth,the two of us sweating and laughing until a ragged group of armed men emerged from the jungle.Carl,stoned,paid them no mind but I dropped the frisbee and nearly fainted from fright.

Later he asked,”What was that about?”

I told him but he did not understand.