Tt felt like the dreamy old days, gripping a battered copy of Southeast Asia on a Shoestring as the train moved out of Phnom Penh. I passed five lovely, languorous hours in the open doorway at the end of the car, forearms in the sun, feet dangling above the tracks, studying the stubbly rice fields long past their green best, the slender sugar palms, and the blue and pink lotus flowers blossoming out of the mud.
Although Royal Railway Cambodia reinstated this route only a few years ago, today there’s absolutely nothing modern about it. When the train arrived at the sleepy town of Doun Kaev, I alighted to buy sliced green mango and sticky rice packaged in palm leaves from platform vendors; then, after the whistle had blown and the brakes were released, I pulled myself back up onto the moving train. It traveled so slowly that we sometimes stopped and rolled backward for no apparent reason.
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