Sunday, November 18, 2007

Swain on To the End of Hell

Jon Swain writes in today's Sunday Times in the UK about the Denise Affonço book, To the End of Hell, having already penned a foreward to the book, alongside another name synonymous with Cambodia, David Chandler. I've just started reading the book myself and will give my own verdict in the near future. Go here to read Swain's account of the book. And whatever you do, get a copy of his own River of Time that looks back at his own time spent in Southeast Asia including his time in the French Embassy as one of the last foreigners out of Phnom Penh after the Khmer Rouge takeover.

A busy day for yours truly today, shopping in the morning for mundane items like wicker bookshelves, wicker seats, tablecloths, material for cushions, pillows, kitchen utensils, etc, etc. The Russian Market was predictably hot under its tin roof and was as usual, awash with foreigners buying their cheap cd's and dvd's. My negotiator for the best prices was Sokheng who has been a revelation in helping me get the best deal for all manner of things, including my apartment. She's the auntie of my god-daughter Vansy and has been unstinting in her efforts to make my settling-in period, as easy as possible. Another great help since my arrival has been Sophoin, who I met in the early afternoon and accompanied me as we collected Dolly and Aon from their Siem Reap bus, for a whistle-stop visit to the National Museum and the Russian Market, a bite to eat at one of the foodstalls there and then out to Pochentong to catch their return flight to Bangkok. They had a great time in Siem Reap and bemoaned the fact that their 3-day trip was way too short. Sophoin is still smarting from the leg injury she sustained in a moto-accident last week and was a real trooper as she helped to show Dolly and Aon around. Afterwards, we watched the Killing Fields movie on dvd and had dinner at the Red Orchid restaurant, before I popped into the internet cafe to type this. Sophoin was never taught about the Khmer Rouge period at school, so watching dvd's like S-21 and the Killing Fields is helping her to better understand that period in her country's history. Her parents have also told her their stories, and she now understands them better in a wider context, though rightly feels aggrieved that information about the Khmer Rouge was completely absent from her schooling.

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