JIM LAURIE

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Cambodia
Meeting the King
January 1979 and June 1985.   He was no doubt Cambodia's most influential, most charismatic, and most erratic leader.   The on again, off again King. The late  Norodom Sihanouk: wily politician, honored guest of the Chinese and North Koreans, musician, movie maker, and monarch.  I met Samdech Sihanouk twice - first in Beijing, then five years later in North Korea.  In both encounters the strength of his eccentric, magnetic personality was amply displayed.
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Emerging from the Ruins

1979.  Vietnamese troops took the Cambodian capital in January.  On April 12, four years to the day of my hasty retreat by helicopter from “the Khmer Republic,”   I crossed the border from Vietnam to Cambodia. Highway One from Bavet to Phnom Penh was a road of human misery.  

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Vietnamese Occupation

November 1979 to January 1980. By the time I returned to Cambodia in November, Vietnamese control over most of Cambodia seemed complete.  The devastated country however was locked in the grip of a deadly famine; one made worse by a cruel international political game played by the big powers.

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Soc Sinan
She was one of the most unforgettable people in my life.  Soc Sinan was 22 years old when I met her.  Within five years she had become trapped amid the horrors of Pol Pot's 'killing fields.'  But Sinan was a survivor.   She outwitted the Khmer Rouge.   With a little help, she escaped Cambodia in the wake of the Vietnamese occupation.  In America, she built a new life for herself, helping other Cambodian refugees.  Sadly that life ended on December 9th, 2010 when she lost her final battle for survival; a battle against cancer. 
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