Monday, February 27, 2006

Finally Some Karaoke in Halong Bay

I should really be writing about the stunning beauty of the limestone cliffs of Halong Bay, about the three day boat trip, about hiking the hills of Cat Ba island and about sea kyaking into hidden coves where you could scream and hear your echo. I should be writing about this because Halong Bay is one of the most stunning things I have seen on this trip. It really was amazing. But what I really want to write about is karaoke, which was amazing in its own special way.

I have been dying to karaoke since Japan. Strangely enough no one would indulge my interest in Japan. So when our boatload of travelers had the opportunity to karaoke at a small smoky bar in Halong Bay, after several large Tiger beers, let's just say that I didn't refuse the microphone. In fact, I embraced the microphone. I was the karaoke. You all would have loved it. Screamed for more. Thrown your bras and underwear onto stage for me.

I only had two performances - songs selected for me by my fellow boaters - "Like a Virgin" and some Celine Dion song that sadly I can't remember (foggy - I had quite a few beers). When I wondered aloud why these songs were selected for me, all I was told was that Celine Dion was chosen because I was Canadian. No one told me why I got "Like a Virgin". I actually think that I ended up with this song because someone shoved the microphone in my hand and told me to sing with an Australian who was a worse singer than I was. Maybe I got it because I appear virginal. Either way, I do have to say, my karaoke performance was just as stunning as the natural wonders that surrounded me. I didn't just sing, I screamed. Vietnam has never heard, or seen (I tried to work my stage presence) karaoke like this before.

Ok, so I must say that my three-day boat trip in Halong Bay was amazing, even though it was fairly cold and foggy. After a long boat ride into the area, on our first day we stopped at some impressive caves where our guide pointed out notable natural sights in the caves formation that included a giant finger (which I have to say looked like a massive rock penis), a turtle, a dragon and a woman. Other than the turtle, I had a hard time seeing some of what she was showing us. It's a bit like trying to see what other people interpret in clouds. Just before dinner we also climbed to the top of one of the cliffs for a view of the region.

Our second day we spent hiking Cat Ba island in the morning and sea kyaking in the afternoon. I was worried when I saw that the itinerary included "Monkey Island" after the sea kyaking. In the end we were told that it was too cold for the monkeys to come out so we skpped the island. The group was audibly disappointed we weren't going to see any monkeys. Outwardly I also tried to appear disappointed. Inside I was clapping with glee. Monkeys should not be tourist attractions, even if they are supposed to have mohawks like the monkeys of Halong Bay. Monkeys with mohawk haircuts? Who cares? They're still vile creatures.

The karaoke incident took place on the evening of day 2 in Halong Bay. As mentioned, there was a lot of beer consumed, which made day three on the boat quite difficult for me. I spent most of the third day wrapped in my sarong, laying down when given the opportunity, listening to my I-Pod, staring at the rock formations passing by my window, wishing that I handn't drank so much.

Still, I can't stop humming "Like a Virigin". Vietnamese karaoke anyone?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Hue Sucks My Ass


1. Pretty citadel/imperial enclosure/forbidden city - Temples, gardens, a giant Vietnamese flag and pagodas.
2. Lovely imperial tombs - Cute stone mandarins and elephants guarding big ass graves for dead emperors and a large stone that weighs 20 tons.
3. Fun bike ride through the city and into the hills to get to tombs - Only got lost once only to be rescued by cute Vietnamese children and a friendly Vietnamese man.


1. Weather - Does it ever stop raining in Hue? Is it always this grey?
2. Bike - Why do I get the crappy pink bike from the 30s that doesn't steer straight, pedal evenly, have shocks or a comfortable seat? My ass hurts.
3. Internet - Spent 45 minutes with 13-year-old boy trying to fix the lousy internet connection. All I wanted to know was what time the women's ice hockey was on.
4. Illness - Got sick and spent one night and a whole day in bed in a Hue hotel (perhaps not Hue's fault, but it still ruined the city' effect).
5. Transportation - To leave this city for Hanoi one must endure a 14 hour overnight bus ride with cockroaches. I did not sleep.
6. Food - Apparently there is a severe lack of bread in Hue, despite the fact that EVERY street corner in Vietnam normally sells bread (I was hungry, so very hungry after laying in bed sick).
7. Roads - Dirty, nasty roads with large pot holes and crazy motorbike drivers that don't care if you are on a bike.
8. Rudeness - Jackass cyclo and motorbike drivers that stalk you and drive in front of you, blocking your path, in an attempt to get you to pay for a ride with them.
9. Hoarking - Someone hoarked on my arm when I walked past (the hoarking up in public - nasty phlegm/snot clearing/spitting - is a nasty Asian habit that I cannot get used to).
10. Bathrooms - Stalked by creepy Vietnamese man as I used the washroom at a restaurant. Freak.
11. Olympics - My one refuge from illness was that the women's ice hockey finals were supposed to be on my room's TV (yay TV!!!!! The highlight of Hue!) at 3:30 am. I set my alarm and woke up to watch ice dancing for 30 minutes. No women's ice hockey finals anywhere to be seen. I hate ice dancing. It is the worst Olympic sport. Wanted to throw something at the television but instead, in my weakened state, passed out swearing and thinking of all the reasons why ice dancing should be banned from the Olympics (come on people, ice dancing is NOT a sport).

Conclusion: Hue sucks my ass.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pretty Hoi An

The drive into Hoi An was a 12 hour overnight bus ride that I was not looking forward to. I don't sleep on buses or trains and the prospect of being enclosed on a rickety bus for that long didn't sit well with me. Taking a Gravol, I did manage to sleep fitfully, but awoke partway into the trip to see that we were making our way down a large hill with a large body of water at the bottom. Everything was black except that the water was lit up with hundreds of lights, making it look like a huge friendly alien invasion. Disoriented from the Gravol, I stared out the window, smiling like a dope, thinking The aliens sure look nice. Shiny. They won't hurt me. Then the moment was broken when I was told that the lights were used for fishing squid. I frowned at this. So beautiful and just fishing lights? I hope that if aliens do come to earth that they are as stunning as this.

I don't really know what to say about Hoi An because not much really happened there, but I loved it. Hoi An is simply a pretty place, the kind of place you can just wander for hours looking around. The houses and buildings are all brightly coloured - yellows, purples and indigo blues - with wide shutters painted in complimentary colours. Many of the buildings have broad wooden verandas on the second floor that look out onto the street. Handmade colourful Chinese lanterns hang for sale in most of the stores and at night the restaurants along the river are gorgeous - old colourful buildings with textured walls, with candles lit along the tables and colourful lanterns hanging everywhere. Two of the more popular cafes had small pastry shops where you could buy pain au chocolat, tarts and cakes. It felt like the kind of place I could stay for a while, maybe write a book.

Hoi An also had tailors, hundreds of tailors. Everywhere you walked you were called by a vendor with promises making you anything you wanted. I had a wool winter coat tailored to my sepcification and size for $30. Everyone I met had spent hundreds of dollars on shoes, bags, coats, suits and even tuxedos. Suddenly I wished that I wasn't going to be traveling for another four months.

I wish that I could say more about Hoi An because this entry doesn't seem to do it justice. So you are all just going to have to pick up and visit Hoi An on your own. Maybe a few of you will stick around so that you can write a book. Make sure you try the choco-choco tarts from Tam Tam.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Remedial Scuba Diving - Nha Trang

Why would someone afraid of large bodies of water, notably the ocean, take a PADI certification course to become a diver? I asked myself this very question every day for the last four days in Nha Trang while I tried to learn to dive.

I am the world's worst scuba diver. I have no natural talent for it. There are many things that I am better at than scuba diving, including playing pool, speaking German, remembering the names of places, people and restaurants and being on time for things. This is saying a lot considering that these are all talents that I am severely lacking in. I am awkward and have zero intution for what to do once I get into water. It gets worse when I dip my head below the surface. Yet somehow, after 5 hours of movies, two sessions in a pool, two days of diving in the ocean and an exam, I managed to pass my course. I am now a PADI certified diver. I can't believe it.

Following a morning of movies, I was tossed into a pool to begin my confined water skills. My time in the pool didn't go so well. The weather was grey and cold, and my wetsuit didn't fit properly. I was terrible at most of the skills - removing my regulator from my mouth underwater, clearing my mask after letting it fill with water and ascending to the surface when my air supply had been cut off. I had to do many of the skills two or three times before I mastered them. Sadly, if there had been a remedial diving course, I would have been in it. Instead of feeling like I was improving, I felt like I was regressing. Underwater, my instructor Dan often stared at me, closed his eyes, sighed audibly and shook his head as if though I were the worst student in the world. I was happy to get out of the pool alive, and wondered what I was going to do when I got into the actual ocean.

The second day went slightly smoother. In the morning, Dan and I reviewed the materials from the day before and some of it began to make more sense. In the pool I was slightly more graceful. I managed to learn to control my breathing and Dan's you-are-the-worst-student looks became fewer and fewer. I passed all of my quizzes (one area where I seemed to excel was the written examination), got 98% on the final written exam and was begining to gain confidence.

Unfortunately this confidence did not carry itself into the ocean. My first open water dive was a disaster. This is not an overstatement. The visibility was poor - only one meter in front of me (decent visibility is 7 - 10 m, good visibility 10 - 15 m and excellent visibility 20 m +) - so I was freaked out when we descended. My eyes are poor close up, the effect being that everthing visible to me at the bottom became blurry. As a result, I spent most of the time swimming in Dan's fins, being kicked in the head (something you are not supposed to do). I am certain that fish were swimming past me, but I was admittedly so scared by the limited visibility that I don't remember seeing much of anything other than green cloudy water.

Then my nightmare happened. Somewhere along the way, I lost my instructor.

Now, at this point I must mention that I was Dan's last student before he leaves Vietnam for Tanzania. He was a good instructor, but a little distracted. In my confined water dive he was goofing off, turning summersaults underwater to try and make me laugh, resulting in him kicking me in the head. He was often late and frequently forgot things that I had to remind him of. So during the first ocean dive he seemed unaware of the fact that I was swimming behind him - worried about dying and trying to keep up - while he chased fish, examined coral and leisurely swam through hoops. So my claim should be revised to read that MY INSTRUCTOR lost ME (after all it is his job not to lose me, right?).

The last time I saw Dan he was chasing a fairly uncool, generic fish. Ditched for a lame fish? I swam to catch up and suddenly found myself floating in empty, cloudy water. I turned around to look for Dan and realized he was gone and that I couldn't see the bottom or the surface because of the low visibility. This freaked me out. I looked for Dan - which amounted to me pretty much spinning in circles for 30 seconds - while trying to stay calm and remember what the damn PADI book said to do if you lost your buddy. Finally, I remembered that I was supposed to look for him for a minute and then ascend slowly on my own if I couldn't find him. At the surface I bobbed for almost 10 minutes (I don't think he realized that he had lost me for 10 minutes!) until Dan came up, giving me the you-are-now-OFFICIALLY-the-worst-student look. I countered with the you-lost-me-because-you-weren't-concentrating-on-being-my-instructor-and-were-instead-following-fucking-fish glare. We swam back to the boat in silence.

Fortunately my subsequent dives improved. The visibility was slightly better and I was calmer realizing that I was not going to die if I lost Dan (which happened a second time!). I actually began to enjoy myself on the last dive because I got to see some pretty cool marine life. Maybe I am the world's worst diver, but I am certified. It's just like university - once you have your diploma, no one asks about your marks, right? They just care that you have it.

So, anyone up for a little remedial diving? Meet you in Nha Trang.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

What the *&%$ happened in Dalat?

I don't know what I think about Dalat. It is pretty much the Vietnamese equivalent of Niagara Falls, but without the falls. It is one of most touristy places I have ever traveled. Yet it was strangely fun, like when something is so bad that it is funny. I already know that telling people about how bad Dalat was was will make for good travel fodder, and my photos are so strange that they actually make Dalat look like an interesting place to visit.

On the one day tour of Dalat I saw some strange things. It started out innocently enough with a cable car ride that ended with a visit to a fairly non-descript temple. So I began the day thinking that Dalat was going to be boring. Our next stop was a barely-there waterfall that was leaking down the side of a rock face because it's not the rainy season. Everywhere there were Vietnamese men dressed as cowboys escorting horses and small children and women dressed like Indians. A small golden statue of a boy pissed into a fountain. Incomprehensible to me, these were tons of Vietnamese tourists - many on their honeymoon I was told- who paid for the opportunity to dress in Indian clothing and pose next to the falls. There was also a large pit of crocodiles laying in the sun next to the waterfall (obviously - ???). I watched as Vietnamese boys spat on them to try and make them move, without success. That was the highlight of the waterfall.

The next thing we saw was by far the lamest thing I have ever seen traveling. It was an attraction called "The Amazing Table". When I saw it in the leaflet, I was immediately intrigued. What could be so amazing about a table? When we pulled up to a tiny house on the side of the road a woman instructed us to place our hands lightly on the round table - like a Ouija board - and yell either "left" or "right" in any language. The table top was apparently supposed to spin on its own in the direction we commanded. We tried our best and yelled "left" and "right" a few times - trying different languages - but the table top did not spin. It was embarassing, four of us sitting with our hands on the table, being watched by the owner of the Amazing Table who was telling us that we weren't "believing enough". Eventually after much pleading and encouragement from the woman and our guide, the table began to move. I think that's because someone pushed it, although no one would admit to it.

Our next stop was a temple featuring a giant dragon made out of beer bottles and a Buddha backlit by neon. Yeah. This temple was followed up by a visit to the "Valley of Love", basically a small park overlooking a lake at the bottom of a valley. There were several sad looking caged monkeys (who deserve it - fuckers!) and, ironically, a handful of caged "Freedom Birds". Only in Dalat. The highlight of the Valley of Love was the lamest bumper car ride I have ever seen, featuring two Vietnamese teens trying to chase each other over a large concrete area, using brokendown bumper cars that play happy birthday in uneven whiny nasal music. We watched for a few minutes and only saw them bump cautiously once.

After lunch we visited a summer house of the King. At least this is what I think it was. Our guide wasn't all that informative and lead us through a 1950's house filled with retro furniture in about 5 minutes, pointing to several beds and couches without much comment. It was probably his grandmother's house. Next was the "Crazy House", which was actually quite interesting for the 15 minute we were there. It is a guesthouse that is built in a "crazy" way, featuring eery treehouse-like rooms and Salvadore Dali-esque stairways and gardens.

The best part of the day came when we ditched the end of the tour - flower gardens! - to visit a Monk that I had read about online. Known as the "Mad Monk" or the "Crazy Monk", this guy is a prolific artist and Buddhist monk with a studio in Dalat. When we arrived he was in the garden and invited us in to his studio. Inside, we could see that it was filled with thousands of paintings - self portraits, landscapes and pictures featuring zen-like sayings. I could not believe how much work he has created - three large rooms worth. We watched him work for a bit and I bought two of his paintings. He insisted that we write our addresses in his book and claims that he might come to Canada one day to stay with one of us - in exchange for 20 paintings. I wrote my brother Scott's address down. So Scotty, if a 60-year-old buddhist monk shows up at your house asking for me, let him in.

I would like to say that my second day in Dalat was better than the first, but it basically consisted of gorging on a bag of coconut-based pastries until I was going to throw up and getting burnt walking around a large man-made lake filled with paddle-boat swans.

So it will come as no surprise that my visit to Dalat ended badly - so very badly - when, on the bus ride into Nah Trang, the cute Vietnamese baby in front of me vomited all over my foot. So yes, what the *%$# happened in Dalat?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Editing Memoirs in Mui Ne

Mui Ne, a small beachy kind of place and I am in a cramped cake shop surrounded by three confused Vietnamese women who speak no English. Despite the fact that the only thing they sell is cake, they cannot seem to understand what I want to buy. I point at the cakes on display. I draw pictures of cakes with birthday candles on them. I mime giant circles with my hands, hum happy birthday, blow out imaginary candles and eat the invisible cake I have created. They continue to stare at me, tilt their heads quizzically and squint. I wonder what they could possibly think that I am asking for - "I was looking for a male prostitute. Got any lying around?" It seems so obvious to me. All I want is a fucking cake.

It is the 30th birthday of Ali, a nice guy from the UK who I met on the bus. I thought that 30 was a significant milestone that deserved a cake. I thought it would take 15 minutes to buy one. Suddenly I am thinking that I should ditch the cake, but the drive into town was 45 minutes - despite promises that it was only 10 - so my shoulder is burnt and I feel like I will be a failure if I come back strawberry-coloured and cakeless.

After 30 minutes I have made small progress. They now seem to think that I am there to pick up a birthday cake for someone named George. "'re here for the cake for George! Why didn't you just say so?" At least this is what I imagine they are saying to me in Vietnamese. They bring out a large fluffy cake with a giant pig made of icing. I shake my head and refuse the cake. This seems to anger them. They try to sell me a large square cake with flowers on it and a giant heart. I think that this is probably a wedding cake of some sort. I am insistant that I do NOT want a cake with a heart on it. I try to open the display case. This causes great alarm - yelling and screaming and hand waving. Apparently the display cakes are not for sale.

Suddenly my driver tells me that we have to leave and come back. He has said something to the women - a short 3 word sentence in Vietnamese. I wonder why he did not help me earlier. I am confused and not sure what will be on the cake, or if I have just purchased a small child or avian bird flu-infected bird, but he seems confident that we need to come back and a cake will appear. I halfheartedly write down "Happy Birthday Ali" and leave a deposit for a cake that I am not sure will ever exist.

We drive to a small rundown Vietnamese bar by the water and my driver yells for some drinks. A Vietnamese woman brings them out and asks if I am his wife. I smile and, trying to be as polite as possible, say no. The driver is smiling broadly at me. I wonder what he has said to her. The woman stares at me as I drink my orange soda and then, after a few moments of silence, screams "I admire you!" I glance at her sideways and don't know how to respond other than to say thank you. No one has ever told me that they admired me, especially not for my orange soda drinking skills. She runs into the back room to get me some oranges and brings her 12-year-old daughter with her.

The driver, the daughter and the woman watch me eat the oranges and drink my orange soda for the next hour. I wonder what these people are thinking. I try to speak to them, but they do not know any English and after 3 minutes of gestures and confused looks, we all give up and eat the oranges. I wonder about the cake and try to pretend that it isn't freaking me out that the three of them are staring at me as if though I were Julia Roberts. In an effort to break the awkwardness, I play some music from my I-pod for the girl. I can tell she hates it, but pretends to like it, nodding her head shyly to the beat, because she thinks that it's cool.

The young girl shyly passes me a neat lined notebook. I open it and see that it is some type of journal that she keeps in English. It is filled with all the things that a 12-year-old girl writes about in Canada - friends, her family, school. She writes about boys who are "not tall" but have "oval faces". She hands me a pen and nods to the notebook. She wants me to edit it. I sit there and wonder how it is that I am in Mui Ne correcting a 12-year-old girl's diary, waiting for a birthday cake that may never arrive.

When we get the cake it is covered in large roses, but thankfully no heart, and miraculously it says "Happy Birthday Ali". I am pleased with this. Later that night, after beer and Vietnamese rum and coke, 10 of us will happily down the cake in less than 15 minutes, despite the fact that it took me the better part of the day to buy it. We will spend time climbing the massive sand dunes of Mui Ne, filling my ears and nose with sand and whipping my sunburn. Despite the gorgeous dunes and the fun impromptu birthday party, when I think of Mui Ne, I will probably best remember my trip to the cake shop when I spent the afternoon in silence with three Vietnamese, eating oranges and editing the memoirs of a 12-year-old girl.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"Who is taking care of you?" - Saigon

Children ask the most direct and important questions. I spent the bus ride to the Cu Chi tunnels - just outside of Saigon - being quizzed by an eight and ten-year-old from the UK. I quickly regretted telling them that they could ask me anything they wanted when they started into questions about my love life. "Who was your last boyfriend?" "Why did your first relationship end?" "Who broke your heart?" "Why did it break?" "How many boyfriends have you had?" I forgot how honest and direct children can be. They really don't hold back and ask some fairly complex questions. It was refreshing and scary that they don't understand the idea of small talk. If only adults were so uncensored.

I was worried they were soon going to ask about my sex life the way the conversation was heading, so I was happy when they began asking about my trip. Hearing that I was traveling on my own for several months and that I don't have a home, the 8-year-old looked at me and said with great concern, "But who is taking care of you?" This made me laugh.

We started the day out visiting the home of Cao Daism, a relatively new religion here in Vietnam that is a combination of Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity and Confuscianism. Strangely enough, they also worship Victor Hugo as one of their saints. Yeah, I don't get it either, but within the first year of the religion being created, 26,000 people had signed up.

The people were eerily friendly and smiley - always a prerequisite for a new cult - and the main Cao Dai temple was a massive fluorescent yellow, pink and blue structure featuring creepy "divine eyes" everywhere. Walking around, I was immediately accosted by Cao Dai women, all dressed in white, who shreiked when they saw me and grabbed my arm. At first I thought they were trying to convert me, but I quickly learned that, like the Thai and Japanese men, they just wanted a photo with me. I can only imagine how many people around Asia now have photos of me in their family albums. After watching their ceremony inside the ornate temple, which was beautiful, we left for the Cu Chi tunnels.

The famous Cu Chi tunnels, used by the VC during the Vietnam war, afforded me the opportunity to crawl underground sweating in the dark for 30 meters while people behind me took photos of my ass (look for those in a future post). Being slightly clausterphobic, I cannot tell you how happy I was when I came up for air, and the tunnels have been enlarged twice the size for tourists! The tunnels also featured a black and white Vietnamese propaganda film that I could not understand, a sampling of booby traps used by the VC (all of which involve sharp rusty spikes that impale the enemy but fail to kill them) and a shooting range where tourists pay to shoot AK-47s. I passed on this opportunity because it seemed so strange knowing that the war will feature so prominently in so much of my travel through Vietnam.

Besides, with no one to take care of me, what would I if I accidentally shot myself?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Phnom Penh

On the drive in to Phnom Penh, an older Cambodian man sat next to me on the bus. I assumed he spoke no English. At one point I motioned to ask if he would like the curtain closed to keep the sun off his face. I was shocked when he replied with the most perfect "Pardon me?"

It turns out that has been living in the US for the past 30 years and was just home visiting. Talking to him, I learned so much about what the Cambodian people suffered through. His brother and sister were murdered by the Khamer Rouge because they were fairly high ranking military staff. He's not sure how or where they died. All he was told was that the Khamer Rouge came to his house and took them away. I am certain that their death was probably quite brutal given that the Khamer Rouge did not like to "waste" bullets and instead chose to bludgeon their victims to death with sticks and hoes. He himself would have been killed by the Khamer Rouge because of his military family and his high education but he found his way to a refugee camp and was eventually sent to Los Angeles.

I can't even imagine what it would be like to arrive in a foreign country where you have no money, you do not speak the language, you don't know a single person and your family has been murdered. He claims that it was not difficult, that you do what you need to do to survive, but I could tell that he was sad thinking about it. Despite his high education in Cambodia, he was forced to become a machinist in LA. His credentials meant nothing in America. He married a Cambodian woman and they had a little girl. When she got sick he did not know what to do because he could not speak or understand English. He had to bring his daughter to the hospital and hope that everything would be ok.

He was so nice to me on the ride. At one of the rest stops he bought some Cambodian food to share with me and when we arrived in Phnom Penh he seemed concerned for my safety. He asked if I would like to stay at the hotel with he and his daughter. I declined, I told him that Annie and I were going to be staying together so there was no need to worry. He gave me his cell phone number and negotiated a great rate for our room and ride by bargaining hard in Khamer.

So after this encounter, the killing fields in Phnom Penh seemed to hold a different more human feeling for me. Suddenly, seeing thousands of skulls piled inside the monument at the killing fields outside the city - many with large cracks and holes in them - made me wonder if one of these people had been his brother. When I walked past the holes labeled "Mass Grave. 889 bodies of headless, naked women and children" I wondered if one had been his sister. When we walked past the gallows, I wondered if his family had been hung. It made it all a little more real.

That afternoon Annie and I visited a local school that had been converted into prison under Pol Pot. The rooms had been preserved - with tiny wooden cells and all sorts of instruments to torture prisoners with. Several of the larger rooms held rows of photos taken of each of the victims before they were murdered - thousands of black and white headshots of frightened looking men, women and children. I have to admit, I walked around the museum in a bit of a daze.

That evening Annie and I met up with a Canadian girl who is in med school at U of T and went for drinks at a rooftop patio overlooking the river, watching thousands of motorbikes stream past. There was a beautiful sunset that I would have loved to enjoy, but the day weighed pretty heavy with us and I didn't feel much like celebrating after everything we had seen.

It seems to be a little bit of a theme for this trip - the juxtaposition of the worst of people (Hiroshima atomic bombs and the Khamer Rouge) and the best of people (Australian saviours and kind Cambodian men). I'm glad that despite some horrible reminders of how evil people can be, I still hold on to the idea that I think people are inherently good.