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Kindness One: In Cambodia, a collision with evil

Sometimes, words aren’t enough to describe the emotions the seize you. That’s what happened to me in Cambodia.

I left Los Angeles on Aug. 10 in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe on my trusty yellow motorcycle with the help of generous people who are housing me, feeding me and giving me money for gasoline for the bike, which I call Kindness One.

After visiting the enchanting temples at Angkor Wat, I arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, energized by that visit. Although I certainly knew about Cambodia’s tragic past, I was unprepared for coming face to face with it.

Cambodia's infamous killing fields are exactly that: open spaces where the murderous Khmer Rouge took innocent people to be slaughtered. The Geneocide Studies Program at Yale University estimates there are more than 300 such mass gravesites in Cambodia. As I got closer to this place of death, my heart started racing. When I arrived I encountered a pagoda filled with human skulls, countless graves and other things too painful to describe.

My trip is all about connecting and kindness, yet here I was at an epicenter of evil. One local man told me that the Khmer Rouge killed his uncle, one of 1.5 million or more people slain by the regime from 1975 to 1979. As he wept, his sorrow still fresh after more than three decades, I tried to hold back my own tears. We must never forget.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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