Trail of Crumbs

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It’s funny (well, not funny, but you know – interesting) that even as I’m researching this stuff, I have trouble imagining how it happened. I saw first hand the aftermath of it, but some part of me still can’t wrap my head around it.

I guess I would just like to think that we live in a world where international organizations step in BEFORE genocide happens, but history has shown time and again that we don’t. A lot of the time, we just sit back and watch. When we do intervene, it’s usually for the wrong reasons. And sometimes our attempts just fail.

Still, it’s hard to look at the Khmer Rouge regime and not wonder: what the fuck were the rest of us doing? And … shit. I’ll get to it. But mostly, we first did a lot of nothing. Later, we’d help them out. Yeah. I know. I KNOW. It’s totally fucked up. Anyway, on to the decline of the Khmer Rouge. All the caveats I mentioned in earlier posts still stand. I’m an American. I’m not a historian. I tend to editorialize. 

Sign at Choeung Ek Genocidal Center.

 

By the second half of the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge had all of the Cambodia people in a vice. People would be dragged off to Tuol Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh, where they were interrogated and tortured, then sent to the Killing Fields, where they were murdered in all kinds of horrific and creative ways (the Khmer Rouge didn’t like to waste bullets on executions), and dumped into mass graves.

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View from a tuk-tuk, Phnom Penh.

 

We arrived late on a Saturday night, by way of Seoul, a 12-hour flight followed by a 5-hour one. We’d elected to have a car pick us up from the airport, and pressed our faces against the backseat windows as we drove to our hotel, watching the landscape.

What was most surprising was that it didn’t look all that different, or that foreign. It reminded me a little bit of South Africa, and both of us of Peru, only it was … well, Asian. It was sweltering hot and humid, something that I’d anticipated but still wasn’t quite ready for; when we’d left Seattle, seeming ages before, summer had not yet hit, and it was chilly and rainy.

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Inside the Schrannenhalle Marketplace in Munich’s Old Town.

 

As an American, it’s often weird going to Europe, because their consumer culture isn’t anywhere near what we have at home. There are shops, sure, but there isn’t the same onslaught of … stuff.

In the U.S., we understand that you haven’t really had a proper vacation until you’ve purchased at least three shot glasses, four shirts, one bottle opener, and a teddy bear all emblazoned with the name of the place you visited. If you don’t have those things, how will anyone know you went there three summers ago?

They won’t. And that’s just tragic.

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Note: I realize that the title of this entry is grammatically … problematic. But I’m crazy tired and really, really jet-lagged. 

Last week, when working on this post, I wasn’t all that surprised to find that most eponymous airports are named after aviation pioneers and politicians (the vast majority of whom were men). But I soon discovered a handful of airports that were named for a rather unexpected bunch. Celebrities, musicians, and the occasional hero of Sherwood Forest. And they were all just too great to keep to myself.

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The motivation for this post begins nearly a decade ago, which is kind of amazing, if you think about it, because Rand and I were very much a couple, even then.

Back when we were these people.

 

Can you imagine being with someone for more than a whole decade? It’s pure madness, and not at all the point of this post.

Anywho, it was ten years ago or so, and Rand and I were in a teeny tiny one-bedroom in North Seattle trying this newfangled service called Netflix. I was going through a phase where, for reasons that still sort of make sense to me now, I refused to watch any movie that didn’t star Cary Grant.

I’m sure you’ll agree: that was a reasonable and somewhat noble demand on my part.

So Rand went through Netflix’s entire library and queued up practically all of Cary Grant’s canon. It was wonderful, particularly when the 20-something iteration of the man I later married would drop a quote into casual conversation.

“Hasn’t it occurred to you that I’m having a tough time keeping my hands off you?”

Cue lots and lots of swooning. (more…)

This is my thousandth post.

My thousandth.

I can’t really get my head around that number. There are few things, short of bodily functions and actions taken to sustain my existence, that I have done a thousand times.

Oh, and I’ve apparently taken 34,000 photos, too.

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I mean, doing a thousand of anything is a lot. I’ve struggled over writing a thousand words, before. Ask me to do a thousand sit-ups and will laugh, heartily, for so long that it will grow really, really awkward. So you can imagine that a thousand posts (from someone who can’t spend five minutes on the internet without wandering off to Zappos to look at shoes, or checking Facebook to see which of my friends have dressed up their pets in hats) is kind of a miracle.

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Paris, like most European cities, is a barren wasteland on a Sunday. The shops are all closed, the pastisseries boarded up, the streets empty. You can walk for hours and not find anything open – not even a grocery store at which you could possibly buy a roll of crackers to soothe your growling stomach.

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Tip: #56: If you can’t find a chair, improvise.

I really wish someone would have joined me.

(In case you want to see travel tips 1-55).