Friday, January 23, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
To give you a sense of what it looks like, here's a picture I found on the internet
Located in Central Turkey, Cappadocia is completely otherworldly. Natural earth formations made from soft rock and lots of wind created this moonscape. One of the most unique and my favorite places I've ever been.
Take a look here. For photos of the nearby town we stayed in, Goreme, click here.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
So, every day or two I will post a photo and a link to an album of a place we have visited. Hopefully we'll add a few places to your places to see before I die list!
Saturday, January 10, 2009
For all 137 photos...visit our flickr page.
Shackles used to hold prisoners in a mass cell.
Uniform worn by John McCain when he was captured by the North Vietnamese.
Photo of North Vietnamese capturing/rescuing John McCain from the water after his plane was shot down.
Friday, January 09, 2009
There is much written about what kind of generosity is systemically helpful versus crippling (for example, giving anything other than opened food to children begging encourages a “pimp” system of abuse; opened food – ie, a peeled banana – cannot be resold, and is often “allowed” to be eaten by the hungry child). And, of course there are innumerable “scams” (the woman with the “broken leg” who stands up, checks her cell phone messages and walks home at the end of the day). But, that doesn’t make it easy or right to walk by person after needy person. I feel painfully aware of the complexities of aid work.
One thing we have discovered in three separate locations bears mention. Rather than simply offering money or assistance, several organizations run businesses that train, support and launch needy kids to self-sustaining futures.
We first encountered an organization called Sozo in Saigon. They run a Western-style bakery that employs deaf Vietnamese and uses all the proceeds to provide education to street kids.
In Hanoi we found KOTO (Know One Teach One). It is a fascinating organization that takes in street kids, provides housing, mentoring, education and job training. They run several high-end Western restaurants that cater to tourists and use the sites as basically “internships” for them before they graduate. When they have completed the program they are very well equipped to support themselves with job skills in the highly coveted hospitality industry.
Although we didn’t get a chance to visit it, we discovered Friends in Phnom Penh that has a similar model of providing work training through a restaurant and proceeds used to help needy kids.
We were both impressed and excited by these organizations that are combining creativity, generosity and practicality so well.
Photos from KOTO...
We've discussed Trina's vivid dreams on this blog. They come from her Father. Not like int the Obama Dreams of My Father sense, but as a genetic inheritance. Trina's dreams, as you have learned, are bizarre, abstract, detailed, and hilarious. But they pale in comparison to her father, who has walked his dreaming road a lot longer.
He told us this story when we spoke on skype the other day.
I was sitting at this round table full of knights, like King Arthur's round table. There were all these other knights, fully armored, even over their faces, with drumsticks in each hand. These drumsticks weren't the culinary type--think snare drum. Each guy had a stick in each hand, with the base facing straight down at the table. Soon everybody started banging their drumsticks on the table (not drumming, but hitting the table with the bottoms of the sticks, with their hands around the middle, like they were banging silverware on the table), louder and faster. I got up to go the bathroom and walked out the door.
As I stepped out the door, I was wearing one of those old deep sea diving suits, with the spacesuit helmets, standing next to a little treasure chest with small bubbles coming out of it. I was in a fish tank. The castle was behind me. Soon this little net came down and I was picked up by the head/helmet and pulled out of the water and set in a '63 Cadillac convertible (in the passenger seat) driving down the Arizona freeway going 70 miles per hour. I still had my helmet on, and bugs kept pinging my mask.
I asked the driver to pull over so I could take my helmet off. I did, and it made a very loud airy whooshing sound when I took it off. The noise woke up hundreds and hundreds of prairie dogs, whose little heads popped up from the ground all around us. They had little spoons, like those little collector spoon, in their hands.
They each came up to me and put the spoons in my head (which was soft like velveeta). It didn't hurt. They kept putting more and more spoons in my head. The windshield started to go up, and push on my neck. It got higher and higher until it actually cut my head off.
My head started spinning and flying up into the air into the clouds. There were these wispy clouds everywhere, and I kept going higher and higher, more wispy clouds. The spoons in my head were hitting (plucking was the word used) the clouds, and each producing a musical sound, faster and faster until it was some sort of music box sounding song.
And then my head floated up to the moon.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
We visited the Presidential palace complex that includes a large palace, a compound of several small buildings around a lake, a museum, some pagodas and the HCM Mausoleum.
One pillar pagoda. Isn't it cool?
Lake at the center of the compound.
House where HCM lived and worked.
I found it interesting that he specifically requested that his body be cremated, but it was instead embalmed and placed in an enormous mausoleum that allows visitors to view his corpse.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Please be aware that the following several paragraphs contain graphic descriptions and images.
The Pol Pot regime set up several prisons, the most famous (and deadly) one being S-21 in
The nearby Choeng Ek “Killing Fields” were used to dispose of the bodies of people killed at S-21. Many others were transported by truck to the fields where their hands were tied behind their back; they kneeled at the edge of a mass grave and then were executed by axe, hoe head, bamboo rod, neck slit by sharp palm leaves, or hung from a tree. The moans of the dying people who were hung from the “Magic Tree” were broadcast across the fields to discourage others from making noise during their imminent death. Babies were killed by beating their heads against a tree. Some were not killed by the above methods, but simply thrown into the mass grave and covered in a chemical called DDT that would help them die soon after being buried alive.
Today, S-21 houses the
The Killing Fields house a tall building with the skulls of 8500 victims. The place today is strangely peaceful. 86 of the 126 mass graves at the site have been opened. It is estimated that 20,000 people are buried at the Choeng Ek fields. There are killing fields and mass grave sites throughout
Walking around the Killing Fields thigh bones, teeth and shards of clothing are all visible in the dirt. The whole site is smaller than I would have imagined. But, the graves were often 6 meters (18 feet) deep, so the footprint didn’t need to be large.
Somewhere between 1.7 and 3 million people died, out of a population of 8 million. Conservatively, 1/4th of the population was systematically killed between 1975-1979.
Headshots of victims of Tuol Sleng.
Some of the "results" of excavating the killing fields.
Torture and death at Tuol Sleng.
Tower containing 8500 skulls.
The fields are littered with bone remains.
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge government (January 7, 1979). Unfortunately, the suffering is far from over.
What really sealed it for me was the