In 1992 new hope was adrift in Cambodia. The country had been through the most horrific thirty years. Hundreds of thousands of refugees were in camps on the Thai border. But there seemed to be a new mood for peace and the UN agreed to support a peace process, leading to elections planned for 1993.
So for the first time for many many years, foreigners visited Cambodia again. And with the presence of UN forces, the Khmer Rouge shrank back into the jungle with their guns, and allowed foreigners to rediscover the wonders of Angkor Wat.
Now you can fly direct to Seam Reap from Thailand and China, stay in foreign owned luxury hotels and travel in foreign owned bus tours, and see the sunset at Angkor along with thousands of other tourists.
But back then, before Angelina Jolie made movies in the ancient temples and started collecting orphans, there were few tourists anywhere in the country. Fear of landmines saw to that, except for the occasional intrepid backpacker or ignorant motorcyclist. Most visitors to Angkor were diplomats, or UN or Red Cross workers like Dennis or Sergio. Local children still played and swam in the pond near the Wat. At the gate of the Wat, one entrepreneur ahead of his time sold small models.
It was quiet and peaceful. The jungle throbbed in the heat of the sun, we sought shade wherever we could. But we could hear the birds, and imagine what it was like with the jungle cleared, visualising the magnificent, sophisticated city that supported more than a million Khmers a thousand years earlier. If it had been a European civilisation it would be famous throughout the world. But it is Asian and largely forgotten. But that was part of its magic to us.
And being in Cambodia, it was good to think of a time when the country was great, when people were prosperous, when there was peace for a time.