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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You know that part in The Princess Bride where Wesley has just become reanimated after being “mostly dead” all day, and Inigo is trying to fill him in on what happened?

“Let me explain … no. There is too much. Let me sum up.”

That’s kind of how I feel right now. There is so much to tell you guys about. I don’t even know where to begin. Chronologically, I should keep telling you about Italy, and the Amalfi coast, and then my subsequent trips to Minnesota and Boston, and then finally get to Cambodia and Vietnam, but if I do that, then you will have to wait weeks, if not months, to hear about this:

 

You guys. YOU GUYS. I met an elephant. I obviously can’t wait weeks or months to tell you about that. Hell, it was a struggle to not simply post that photo first, along with the text, “OMG ELEPHANT WAT WE ARE BESTIES” before collapsing in a puddle of my own drool.

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Itty-bitty fried pizzas magically appeared at our table.

 

It is very, very hard to find a good, reasonably priced meal in Amalfi. Most places we went to were subpar. They could afford to be – they’d have a steady stream of tourists coming in regardless of the quality of the food. There were a few more restaurants that were staggeringly well-reviewed, but also absurdly ridiculous.

But what if you don’t want fancy? Or expensive? What if you just want good food at a reasonable price? And hey – cozy and candlelit with a charming waiter looks like a well-fed version of Ralph Macchio circa Karate Kid II wouldn’t be bad, either?

Then you should probably go to Taverna Buonvicino.

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My presumption with any warning sign, or really any sign at all, is that it exists for a reason. Like, you wouldn’t put a warning sign that says “Watch Your Step!” unless a dozen or so people had tripped on that particular spot. No sign, I figure, is unsolicited or unprovoked.

Which is why the two that I saw in Sorrento, near the docks for the ferries to Capri, were so darn delightful. Because they do not feel unsolicited. They feel like a specific response to the crazy actions of southern Italians.

This was the sign in the bathroom. When I first saw it, I thought I was hallucinating, because NOTHING could be so magical. Notice, also, that it isn’t translated. Do you know why? Because NO ONE BUT ITALIANS WOULD THINK TO DO THIS THING IN THE FIRST PLACE.

 

The sign says (and I shit you not): “IT IS ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN TO WASH YOUR FEET IN THE SINK. THANK YOU”

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