Because of our most recent travels in Asia on our tandem bicycle, I have developed a new interest in the Vietnam War, really the Indochina War of my youth. My draft board called me in 1964. I presented myself, got on a bus and taken for a physical and mental evaluation. I was just out of hospital for a bleeding ulcer. They didn’t know how to cure ulcers in those days, and they knew military food would kill me: 4F. I have always had some survivor’s guilt, partly because I have seen the toll that particular war took on many of the surviving draftees. The vets I have shared this feeling with have said I didn’t miss anything, and to let it go. I think I have. Maybe traveling there, seeing the land and the people involved has had something to do with my coming to terms with those feelings. My appreciation for anyone who fought there is deep. It was one helluva place to have to fight a war.
Southeast Asia is made up of several compact, densely populated countries. Along with a change in currency and the sound of a different language, visitors to the region know they’ve crossed a national border simply by looking to the Buddha. Buddhist imagery and the philosophies it reflects are remarkably different from region to region worldwide, but the differences are especially pronounced in Southeast Asia.
After 35 years, the first Khmer Rouge mass murderer has been convicted in Cambodia. We’ve all heard of the killing fields of Cambodia, when the Khmer Rouge murdered between one and two million other Cambodians. It was one of the worst periods of mass murder in history. It was the Chinese Cultural Revolution gone crazy. The Khmer Rouge, in attempting to bring about an agrarian utopian society, sought out and murdered anyone with an education, and anyone associated with them.
So sad to hear of the crowd disaster and all the deaths in Cambodia. In our three weeks or so in the country we found the people to be hard working, cheerful and generally happy despite sometimes difficult living conditions. Like most Southeast Asians, they love their festivals, and the Water Festival is most beloved. This is an unusual occurrence and should not deter anyone from visiting this wonderful country. We’d go back in a minute. เทศกาลน้ำ