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  • I was hiking up Phnom Sampeau mountain near Battambang when, halfway to the summit, a group of children appeared as if out of the jungle mist. I welcomed the excuse to rest and we gestured and pointed and smiled our mutual introductions. But it was late in the afternoon and I soon started again on the trail. I took only a few steps before realizing that I now had new hiking companions.

    After a climb past abandoned bunkers and Buddhist shrines the group of us reached the precipe, overlooking rice paddies and a coming thunderstorm. Through a break in the overgrowth I could see rusted metal and green paint. When I ducked through the bushes I found an artillery battery from a long past war pointed at a crossroads in the distance. The kids gleefully rushed the howitzers like American children rush jungle gyms at recess. As I reached for my camera the leader of the group swung out on the barrel of one of the guns, over a thirty foot drop and looked at me with a smile.
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