The heat here is oppressive and constant. Everywhere we go we are under a blinding, baking sun. This morning we took an early trip to a playground—one of two modern parks nicely arranged with Western equipment set among beds of flowers. Only a few white parents pushed children on swings and sipped from water bottles. Two Khmer security guards played a lazy game of cards under a tree. I tried to fit my body in a small triangle of shade next to a large multi-colored climbing gym, while Puck laughed and chased bubbles another kid was blowing. Tika and Yoshi pumped themselves higher and higher on the swings. Ernest took a few passes through the climbing structure and returned to join me in the shade.
When everyone’s face was deep red and we had exhausted the place, we headed to a little bar I had seen before. It is set back from the road behind a shaded courtyard offering a few brightly-painted rickety playthings set among the trees. The kids drank Shirley Temples and I took a whisky on the rocks beneath a fan on the porch. I watched Puck and Tika rock back and forth on a metal pelican. Then all four ran to a rusty swinging metal dragon beneath a lychee tree. Yoshi pushed with his foot from the side, revving it up to break the screws off. Tik and Puck were squealing with delight. Ernest had folded his knees up in the back and was gazing out past the street vendors, looking into the distance where he keeps his mid-day thoughts.