Crohn’s Chronicles III

I am thrilled to note that during the course of my four and a half month trip around the world, I did not have to start a cycle of prednisone. I did become a bit more symptomatic at certain points throughout the journey, and I almost brought myself to call my GI and get his approval to start on prednisone. Thankfully, these mini-flares (possibly due to my stomach adjusting to new foods, etc) went away just in the knick of time. I certainly did not want the powerful mood-affecting steroid to impact my experience. Continue reading

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A taste of the third world

 

Independence monument in Phnom Penh. Notice Angkor Wat on the flag.

The short week I spent in Cambodia was an important part of my trip. Between the killing fields and Angkor Wat, I got to experience the two most significant sites in the country. Those excursions only lasted a day or two each, so most of my time in Cambodia was spent hanging out. And hanging out in a third world country happens to be very interesting.

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Angkor what?!

This long pathway over a moat leads to Angkor Wat

The gates to Angkor Wat open at 5:00 AM. Within minutes, tourists begin to swarm all 500 acres of the massive temple compound. Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century by the Khmer king in the capital of his empire. It was built as a Hindu temple, but later became a Buddhist temple. Still standing today in relatively well-maintained ruins, Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. It is the most important figure in Cambodia (as seen on the country’s flag), and the biggest tourist attraction in all of Southeast Asia.

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The killing fields

 

How could human beings be capable of this?

I am glad that I can now bear witness to the worst genocide that you probably don’t know much about. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, took over a struggling post-Vietnam War Cambodia. Pol Pot wanted to bring Cambodia back in time to become a completely agrarian and self sufficient society. He believed that Cambodia belonged to the peasant farmers, and that intellectual city dwellers were the cause of all problems. Within two days, everyone was forced out of their homes in cities and into rural farming areas. Without food or medicine, many people simply died. Others were sent to torture prisons and then killing fields to be murdered. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, and monks were killed. Just having eyeglasses or soft hands was enough to be sent to your death. Between 1976 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge were responsible for the deaths of over two million people. Continue reading