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Amy Thompson March 22, 2008

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Cambodia, Ohio University.

Mr. Lai, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Amy Thompson recently completed her masters in documentary photography from Ohio University and is currently teaching at the Massachusetts College of Art. Amy has  freelanced for The New York Times and has been a featured photographer in National Geographic Magazine. Thompson has lived and worked in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. In 2003-2004, she received a Fulbright fellowship to photograph a project in Morocco titled Behind Walls .

About the Photograph:

This is Mr. Lai, one of my favorite people that I came to know in Cambodia. Maybe that’s why I felt comfortable making this photo. I wasn’t actively looking. It was right there beneath me one morning, as I was about to descend the stairs to the hotel lobby. Before dawn that day, Mr. Lai took care of a pack of tourists heading out to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Then he snuck in a nap. He lived in one of the rooms at the hotel along with other staff and would sometimes return to his village for a visit.

He invited me along once, to attend his sister’s wedding. We rode past rice fields for about an hour to get there, on a moped that he borrowed. When I offered money to cover gas, he threatened (smiling) to leave me out in between the fields on a narrow dirt path under the hot sun. We used to meet some evenings to go through his English homework together. The more his English improved, the more likely he might land a job in a fancier hotel with better pay.


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