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14 Aug 2002
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We needed to stretch our legs after the cramped journey, so Rith took us for a walk around the village. Life in Asia has a rawness that is somehow attractive, village life especially so. We don't fantasise that it's easy, but it's certainly close to nature. Most people were outside their houses doing small jobs or sitting chatting with friends and neighbours, surrounded by small children, dogs, chickens and cows. The sun was hot, the atmosphere relaxed. Judging by the inquisitive looks and smiles we got, we were probably the first outsiders they had seen for a long time. Not much English spoken here though and at times like this we regret not having made the effort to learn Khmer. Back at the house, Rith's mother was cooking lunch over an open fire upstairs: chicken soup, chicken with banana flowers and rice, all washed down with plenty of beer. About a dozen of us sat cross-legged on the bamboo floor to eat whilst the rest ate outside under the house. In the yard a big pot of sweetcorn had been boiling for a couple of hours, so we finished off with those and then were encouraged to lie down for a nap, an endearing Khmer habit!