The dull thud of distant artillery and the sharp crack of small arms fire

We are here in Cambodia and on our first night we are awoken several time with the realisation that something strange and possibly quite bad is going on.

We keep hearing the dull thud of distant artillery. Not constant, but quite intermittent, just so much so that we drift off to sleep again and then are re-awoken by the sharp crack of small arms fire, not all that far away.

Having read up a bit on Cambodia before arriving here, our minds are full of Pol Pot and the civil war. Then, just a week before we set off. There was a documentary on the idiot-box about the assassination of a local journalist who had been campaigning for civil rights, and against nepotism and corruption in the government. He was shot by the secret police who staged it as some sort of ‘hit’ over an unpaid debt.

So, our minds were fertile ground for a disturbance. We didn’t sleep well. However, in the morning we awoke, eventually, to find that the house is under the shadow of a huge mango tree and the fruit is in full season just now. When the ripe fruit drops and hits the ground, it makes a dull thud, but when it falls onto the flimsy tin roof of the pottery shed, it makes a sharp metallic report, not unlike distant small arms fire.

It was a great relief and we were able to sleep well after that, even with the noise.


We soon get accustomed to eating half a dozen fresh mangoes for breakfast each morning. We even make tropical mango and banana pizza for the family before we leave.