I would like to take a moment to talk about durian.

I have to. I have spent the larger part of the morning working on a post about the Khmer Rouge, and I very much need a mental break, and talking about stinky fruit will allow for that to happen.

So. Durian.

The stuff is notorious, and you’ve probably heard of it. Miraculously, I somehow failed to take a photo of the inside of the fruit (I think I was hypnotized by the smell) but here is its exterior:

 

I like to think of the spikes as being Mother Nature’s subtle way of saying, “Get back. Seriously.”

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Yesterday, I discussed the political situation in Cambodia that allowed for the Khmer Rouge to rise to power. Today, I want to talk about what happened once they were in control of the country. All the same caveats that I mentioned yesterday still hold true. Mainly: I’m not a historian, so while I’ve done my best to be accurate (and cite my sources), I may have made some mistakes. If you find one, please let me know in the comments, and include a source. Also, as you probably know, I’m an American. I’ve tried not to editorialize too much, but everything that I write will have that bias.

Statue at the Royal Palace, Phnom Penh.

 

Lesson 1: The Khmer Rouge (continued)

After years of Civil War and fighting (exacerbated by U.S. involvement), Cambodia was pretty damn unstable. The country had been ravaged – by bombs, by poverty, by hunger and war – under the old regime of the Khmer Republic. So when the Khmer Rouge (the KR) finally took Phnom Penh, on April 17, 1975, people cheered.

This was different. This had to be salvation.

This detail breaks my heart perhaps more than any other – because people were so damn hopeful for what the Khmer Rouge could do, for what they might bring to the country. They were cheering their would-be murderers.

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Lesson 1: The Khmer Rouge.

It seems pointless to tell you about Cambodia without first going into the country’s history, particularly in the last forty years or so. Some will chastise me, and will be quick to say that the country is more than the Khmer Rouge, more than this dark history. That’s true: I can’t and won’t dispute that. But this particular backstory is the reason why the country is what it is today. It is virtually impossible to speak of Cambodia and not touch on the issue. My stories won’t make sense.

Nicci and I realized this. That’s why, on our very first morning in Cambodia, we went to the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, and later to the Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum. They was no way around it, and it framed the way we traveled, and how we saw the country, and I think that was the responsible way to go.

Some of the young victims of the Khmer Rouge.

 

It’s so important, I’ve made the “Khmer Rouge” Cambodia Lesson #1.

Note that I’ve added nothing else. Not “The Khmer Rouge was horrible” or “The Khmer Rouge left a legacy of death and terror” or anything to that effect. This is because of Cambodia Lesson 2.

Lesson 2: Don’t pretend for a second that you understand what the fuck happened here.

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I’ve been slacking lately on the blog. I’m sorry about that. Balancing travel, home, life, the blog, and the book has been harder than I thought. This last week has been particularly busy – mostly for Rand. His company’s annual conference is taking place here in Seattle, which means he’s been running around non-stop.

It also means that some of my favorite people from the around the world are all congregating in my hometown. This has made it very, very difficult to sit down and focus on the blog.

Especially when they bring me cookies all the way from Australia. Or tell me that it’s perfectly reasonable to eat key lime pie at 2 a.m. (See? This is why they are my favorite people in the world.)

So I’ll kindly ask for your patience while we are preoccupied with this very serious-type business.

 

Ahem.

Very, very serious.

 

Yup yup.