Sunday, February 28, 2010

the war remnants museum, saigon vietnam

we visited the war remnants museum today. outside were tanks, planes and large artillery. inside were rooms showing smaller weaponry; the devastating effects of agent orange and other toxics on the landscape, and more importantly the people, both american and vietnamese, who were present at the time and on the offspring of subsequent generations; anti-war photos and speeches from the around the globe; photos of over 100 war journalists who were killed in the line of duty; and the documentation of what we call the massacre at my lai . but it wasn't my lai exactly. it was in the hamlets of my lai and my khe, which are part of the village of son my. i mean, if we're going to rape, torture, mutilate and murder an entire hamlet and part of another of unarmed, unresisting old men, women, children and babies, could we at least have the decency to call the place by it's right name? anyhooo....

what made the tears come again (after the genocide museum and killing fields in cambodia) was that this is who we are as a human race. we are ordinary people - the 18, 19, 20 year old boys next door - that can become rapists and torturers when taken out of their element and put in fear. it is how easily we can dehumanize others in order to cope with the inhuman actions we ourselves take. it is the facts that we, the human race, walk the razors edge of complete barbarism at every moment.

I would say that most people in our company didn't consider the Vietnamese human.
—Dennis Bunning

the fall of saigon: independence palace

presidents palace, reunification palace, independence palace.... whatever you want to call it, i remember the photos of the tanks crashing through the gates signaling the fall of saigon.

traitors in the ranks helped a plane target a bomb to wipe out the central staircase and core of the palace

view from the open air dance hall at the top. it's good to be president, well, except when you've been installed by the united states and everyone's trying to kill you...

some of the original equipment in the palace at the time of the fall

one of many maprooms

reminds me of my life in the corporate world

Saturday, February 27, 2010

and then vietnam

and our first taste of saigon (ho chi minh city)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

phnom penh: the tuol sleng genocide museum and the killing fields

we spent the day at the tuol sleng genocide museum and at the choeung ek genocide center, otherwise known as "the killing fields".

tough to look at, but i had to do it. i remember the story and the photos from on the news and in life magazine. the events here, so far away from me, like the vietnam war, played a huge role in shaping my youth.

tuol sleng was originally a school, later converted by pol pot's insane regime into a torture center for as many as 30,000 people. they have tried to leave the buildings much in the condition they were found.

once a complex of ordinary buildings

when pol pot's men fled, they left 14 bodies in the rooms, still chained to the steel frame cots they were tortured on. each room where a body was found was left with the original contents.

and in each of those rooms, a photograph of exactly how and what was found there is displayed.

those not being tortured were held in small cells that had been built into the classrooms.

and then there were the photos, photos and records meticulously kept of the victims. there were rooms full of them on display. i had to look at each and every one. i needed to look at them, to acknowledge them and what my fellow human beings had done to them.

zeljko could not. he waited outside for me.

and after the months of prolonged torture, the killing fields. not too far away, mass graves were unearthed. they stopped digging after awhile, leaving the remainder still in the ground.

the skulls of those unearthed were placed in a memorial tower. the scale is sickening.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

seeds of the gods

our guesthouse in phnom penh is directly across from the mekong. every evening we sit in the downstairs cafe and watch the world go by.

sometimes the world includes elephants

and sometimes monkeys

and sometimes it includes little girls selling the seeds of the gods. lotus seeds still in the freshly harvested heads. when i first saw her coming from a distance, i couldn't figure out what she was carrying. cactus? do they have cactus in vietnam? so we called her over as she passed by, asked what she was carrying and she told us what they were, showed us how to eat them and better yet, how much fun one could have popping the smaller seeds upon one's forehead...

monks, motorcycles and moos or
on the road again: siem reap to phnom penh

a cambodian travel agency

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

serbs and salsa in siem reap

i've been telling zeljko about mexican food forever. i thought that one day i'd be able to take him to the united states or mexico so he could actually taste it and finally understand its superiorness to all other foods.

and then today, mexican food in cambodia. really.
chips, salsa, fajitas, burritos, tacos and real live margaritas.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

siem reap, cambodia: i'm finally here!

here i am. i'm here!

i'm finally in siem reap, cambodia. i don't recall when i first saw photos of angkor wat, but i remember that from the moment i saw those photos, i knew i had to see it in person.

many years ago, trent and i spent a lot of time travelling through mexico. there was something about the remnants of its once larger-than-life past civilization that drew me back over and over again. chichen itza, uxmal, palenque... beautiful.

but angkor, angkor surpasses. (ok, it's not fair to compare, they're very different, but...) every inch of every building covered with intricate designs. the word majestic was made for angkor.

the ruins are spread over miles and miles and miles. we splurged. we got a car and a driver for two days. it was magnificent. hot, tiring, and magnificent.

did i mention the monkeys? they freak me out. vicious little things.

siem reap, cambodia: preah khan

siem reap, cambodia: angkor wat

oh the detail...

and the detail...

and the detail...

siem reap, cambodia: bayon at angkor thom

siem reap, cambodia: angkor thom terrace of the leper king

Saturday, February 20, 2010

thrillseeking in lao

bungy jumping?


how about flying lao airlines???

flew from vientiane, lao to siem reap, cambodia today.