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
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."