Silenced by Hun Sen’s regime, famed Cambodian poet could have been a national treasure. Instead he works a noodle cart 14 hours a day

Poet and former monk Chin Meas ekes out a living on his noodle cart in Siem Reap, but he still finds ways to express himself – when he has the energy.

Chin Meas cracks a duck egg against the front corner of an empty, half-built hotel, 6km (4 miles) south of Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s most iconic attraction, which draws millions of visitors each year.

He stands at his makeshift kitchen one Saturday evening in June, as tuk-tuks and motorbikes fly by his food cart, stray dogs trot past and neon lights blink across the road. Fumes of chilli oil, cheap beer and urine scent the evening breeze.

Like any other Siem Reap noodle seller, Meas hustles for hungry tourists well past midnight, but few of his customers know that he is a renowned poet.

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