This old house

Kevin Doyle

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Te Hak Kry’s house. Photograph: Van Roeun

In the final days of World War II as European cities lay smouldering and swathes of Asia scarred by occupying armies, Te Hak Kry built a thing of beauty in the Cambodian countryside.

Te Hak Kry wasn’t rich. He cultivated rice in a humble Chinese-Cambodian community on the banks of the wide Bassac River. Yet, here he created a life’s work in an elegant house of hand-carved jungle teak that has stood for seventy years and endured through civil war, revolution and invasion. Since this house was built, Cambodia’s name has changed half a dozen times and a clamouring of ideologies have had their day: colonial, royalist, republican, communist, socialist, and now capitalist. Kings, comrades, tyrants and dictators have ruled; peacemakers have been few.

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