In my last missive it was awful of me to call Angkor Wat a “pile of old rocks”. Not just because it was obnoxious and ignorant of me to say such things about a place sacred to an entire people and their national symbol – it’s on their flag, for heaven’s sake – but because it has been an extraordinary source of inspiration for millions. It was not for me, but that’s my issue! So I wholeheartedly and sincerely apologise for that crack. My only defence is that I, too, was hot, sweaty, and rude. Continue reading 04. A New Approach
The two hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap had more empty seats than occupied, a cricket team of twenty-something farm boys from Pakistan providing all the in-flight entertainment one could ask for. We debarked across a baking tarmac into sleepy Siem Reap International Airport where a single serious-looking customs and immigration official reviewed paperwork and stamped things furiously. Despite this age of supposed globalisation, the visa and entry process from one country to the next still varies considerably.
Malaysia’s visa and entry process is admirably electronic. Not a scrap of paper changed hands except the passport itself, and even that was only so it could be swiped through the electronic reader. All they wanted was electronic index-finger prints, and off we went.
Cambodia’s visa application process was conveniently online, making its paper-intensive entry process (passport, arrival card, departure card, arrival visa, departure visa, contagious disease declaration, customs declaration, each a different scrap of paper with much the same details to be filled in by hand) something of a disappointment. Then they wanted all ten of my finger prints. Continue reading 03. Spiritual Me
When disaster strikes, start looking for bargains.
Mere hours after the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center, Frank was planning a visit to Manhattan. A week after the 2002 Bali bombing, our holiday in Sanur was booked. A month after George Bush The Lesser invaded Iraq, I was flying over Persia.
Callous? Insensitive? Reckless? Perhaps.
Compassionate? Thoughtful? Courageous? Maybe.
Smart? No doubt about it.
In October 2001, no one in New York City suggested our attendance was insensitive. The beleaguered restauranteurs of lower Manhattan were particularly glad to see us in their near silent bistros. Moreover, the events of 9/11 went a long way to shatter the hardened façade of New Yorkers, offering a rare glimpse of their humanity, humility, and vulnerability.
Continue reading 01. To The Rescue