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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 26 November 1999

The Gecko: 26 November 1999

Scott Bradley Nelson was known and liked by folks all over town-and all

over the country too. The friends he made in Battambang, Siem Reap, Kampong Cham

and Phnom Penh-just to name a few of his haunts over a near-decade - will miss his

youthful zest for life.

His fluency in Khmer was the envy of all of us dodos with lame brain excuses on why

we can't master the language the way he did.

We'd sit on the edges of our seats listening to stories of stuff he'd picked up just

chatting with the guy on the street or with the offspring of the high faluttin'.

He mixed with both so easily we were pained by our own ignorance and indolence. Would

that we could communicate directly with the people that live in this country, we

might even be able to claim that we knew what was going on. Alas, Scott was closer

to the real story than we'll ever be.

He said several times with a glint of excitement in his eye that he'd like to spend

the rest of his life in Cambodia.

He wanted to; he exalted in the rough and tumble, edging close to the underbelly

of the beast, while trying to sort out the grey from the black; and he did.

His untimely death on November 24th at the age of 34 is a sad loss for everyone who

cares about Cambodia. He was the rare, well-tempered individual who never seemed

to burn out on the madness. In fact, he fed on it, passionately, with an energy that

surpassed us all, and most surprisingly he managed to keep from becoming the embittered

expat cynic, with time left over to fall in love and dream about hot air balloons

profiting high above Angkor Wat.

If Scott heard the sketchy details of his early demise, as if it were someone else's

and not his own, he'd be the first to suspect something was afoot. He knew this country

too well, and he'd probably be the one to dig up any dirt on what might have gone

down.

We may never know what really happened to Scott Bradley Nelson, that is until we

catch up with a bright young flame whose eager, full life expired too soon. And with

a furtive glance over his shoulder, he'll lean close with that boyish grin and whisper:

"Hey, wait til you hear this one."

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