March 15, 2013, Koh Kong Interview

Koh Kong province is on the Thai border about five hours west of Phnom Penh. This was the farthest we had traveled outside of Phnom Penh for an interview, and it also was the most remote setting we had yet visited--logistics entailed a long windy bus ride through the mountains to Koh Kong city, securing a guest house that did not allow prostitution for the sex tourist that flock to the city over the Thai border, and a reliable and safe driver for the 50-plus kilometers to Leang Korn's home at the foothills of the mountain range.

Leang Korn lives just outside of TaTai, a conservation area full of waterfalls, trees, and wildlife that attracts Khmer and international tourists. She lives with her two grandchildren and a family of friendly dogs, running a home stay for nature tourists and supplementing her income by baking cakes for sale in the nearby market. During the interview, Leang Korn's grandchildren quietly studied and prepared their lunch under the house; later in the afternoon, they attended school. This was the first interview where Thorn Sina joined the research team along with Sotheary and Theresa. Leang Korn is often approached by other researchers and film-makers, and she needed few questions to get her talking about her story. At the same time, because she has not always been happy with the way researchers have approached her, we needed to gain her trust and stress that she is the one in full control of her story and how it is used and shared. We spent the whole day together Koh Kong and then met in Phnom Penh a few weeks later for another interview.