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Tea Leaves

How ghost of Khmer Rouge haunts a Cambodian holiday

Beyond Siem Reap's ancient temples, sobering reminders of land mines and past traumas

Khin Reth, 35, carries his 3-year-old son in rural Cambodia in 2003. The former soldier lost his leg to a land mine. (Getty Images)

After more than two years of pandemic-related sealed borders and abandoned holidays, I was delighted to be able to travel again. A key reason I had moved from India to Malaysia was the chance to explore Southeast Asia. Cambodia was high on my list, so I set off with the idea of seeing the 12th-century Angkor Wat temple complex and following in the footsteps of Angelina Jolie in the ruins of Ta Prohm, the temple featured in her 2001 movie "Lara Croft: Tomb raider."

Tourists come from all over the world to gawk at Cambodia's ancient history, much of it scattered across the Siem Reap region. But the eroded grandeur of the massive monuments often eclipses the country's more recent history of violence and bloodshed during the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s.

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