I have realized that this is the first winter in a decade that I’m not traveling to Cambodia. As I sit in my office looking out at the snow, the cold underlines my sense of loss at not seeing my old friends and students, not seeing the browns and greens of the countryside, the pandemonium of motos darting around the streets of the cities. So much of my heart is there. I keep telling everyone that I plan to be back in the autumn, but we will have to see. Covid is more in control of all this than I can ever hope to be.
I have been relying on Facebook posts and Instagram photos to help remind me that my friends are still waiting for my return. And of course, my work with Writing Through is a daily reminder of all the exciting good work I am involved in, even from thousands of miles away.
But I was thrilled to recently receive another reminder of the Cambodia I love, and that is a new book by my friend, John Burgess. I have written before about him and his other Cambodian-based books, some of which are novels, some non-fiction. All of them are excellent and very much worth reading, as is his newest work, Angkor’s Temples in the Modern Era: War, Pride and Tourist Dollars. The blurb on the cover was written by another wonderful writer, Loung Ung, author of First They Killed My Father, which went on to be turned into an excellent film by Angelina Jolie. Ung says about Burgess’s new book:
A must read for all those who wish to understand the famed temples and their importance to the Cambodia people — and to our world.
I am already missing my annual pilgrimage to Angkor Wat and the cities of temples around Siem Reap and beyond. I’m grateful that John’s book has arrived in time to transport me there, if only through it’s beautifully written and illustrated pages.