FC SCHALKE 04, WONG MENG

Wong Meng Small

FC Schalke 04. Wong Meng. Phnom Penh street, Cambodia, 2013

Why Schalke 04? I asked.

“I don’t know Schalke. This is Adidas.”

It’s five in the morning and I’m having my first coffee at a street café in downtown Phnom Penh. Across the table from me, wearing a blue Schalke 04 shirt sits a man who can easily be an actor or a professional poker player. His face is like a rock, his left eye half closed as I approach with “good morning sir”.

Wong Meng is neither a poker player nor he is an actor. Wong Meng is a cook at the factory in suburbs that makes nice clothes for big brands. That’s where he got his blue Adidas shirt, he said. I thought posing for a picture will be difficult but he just said simple “yes”, got up from his chair and, without changing the face, stood in the middle of the street for me.

Cambodia’s garment industry is huge and getting bigger. More than 300,000 workers produce the clothing, mostly for exports. There is a high chance you have worn clothing from Gap or H&M or Adidas that has been stitched together here.