Cambodia backstory

Janelle wanted to go to Cambodia for a week at the end of March, for her spring break from teaching, and since I was staying with her in Taipei it seemed like a good idea for me to come along. It’s a place I never thought of going, and honestly didn’t know my history. So before we left, I did a whirlwind crash course and read First They Killed My Father, a memoir by Khmer Rouge survivor Loung Ung. The writer gave a talk at Janelle’s school the week before we left – a bit of amazing timing. And so now we’re here. And it’s utterly bizarre to reconcile the Cambodia we’re seeing with the Cambodia of Loung Ung’s book about the time of the Khmer Rouge. Ok, I’ve been here two days. But I sense a relaxed vibe here that’s missing from Taipei. The kind that makes me smile more easily – good food, kids with shy waves and big smiles, bright silk and flowers and noise spilling out everywhere. A monk in a bright orange robe walks barefoot on the sidewalk next to a street jammed with zooming, honking scooters.

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