The world turned blue and green as my sickle swept through rice stalks. Our gang was silent and sweating in the sultry afternoon. The only sound was the crackle of breaking stalks and the slop of feet in monsoon-fed water. An old lady, in baggy pajamas (acceptable daywear in Cambodia), stopped and whirled an armful of stalks into a binding sheaf.
The Southeast Asian landscape is dominated by emerald rice paddies, dotted with workers, bent like apostrophes. From the windows of buses and trains, foreigners gaze at these postcard vistas, and dream about a simpler, more bucolic life.