Visiting Cambodia has been a dream since I was 12 years old and best friends with Alex. I spent many weekends at Alex's house and her parents became second parents to me. Alex's mother seemed crazily exotic and told many stories of her life in Cambodia, until exiled by the Khmer Rouge when she was just 21.
Two decades later she had still been unable to return to her country, but she made sure her half-Cambodian daughter knew about her heritage and I learned too.
Young children who were killed against this tree so they "wouldn't grow up and take revenge for their parents' death".
It was the typical morbid fascination of a teenager that inspired me to read 'The Killing Fields' at an age when I was far too young to really understand what had happened. Even now I remember thinking of the book more as a horror story than an account of real life events. Too over the top to be true.
Alex told me that her mother couldn't read the book because the real life stories featured many of her friends. The real Killing Fields have been...