An unbelievably visceral history lesson: Cambodia's "Killing Fields" (Cheoung Ek) and "S21" (Tuol Sleng Prison/now Genocide Museum) are a haunting reminder of what humanity is capable of. Up to three million people - out of Cambodia's eight million - were murdered in horrifically brutal ways by the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, IN THE NINETEEN SEVENTIES. The goal of the Khmer Rouge was to transform Cambodia from an urbanized colony of the west into a communist, completely agrarian society. Unfortunately, this meant the removal of people from their city homes, the separation of families, and the murder of intellectuals, artists, foreigners, political upstarts, and whomever else the Khmer Rouge deemed unfit for its new utopia. For five years, no one was safe: one-fourth of Cambodia's population was tortured and killed without trial, without proof of wrongdoing, without reason. And for many years after the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, the western world refused to acknowledge that these crimes were unjustifiable, or even that they'd happened at all. Thankfully, the perpetrators have since been brought to trial, and in most cases, justice has been served. But again, this is not ancient history. The effects of this genocide are still very much felt in contemporary Cambodia, and they should serve to remind us to be wary of those proposing order and greatness at the expense of tolerance and true progress.
🇹🇭I climbed up a mountain on the island of Koh Chang as my last Thai adventure (for now). It was one of the most challenging and rewarding solo hikes I've ever done - a fond farewell to the country that showed me the height of backpacking, pun intended. Nearly a month spent in Thailand's cities, mountains, caves, and coasts; with its wonderful, helpful people and animals, and I'm already missing it. But...I've just crossed into Cambodia (country #5!) and I'm ready for more adventures 🇱🇦
My utterly amazing day with Punyaa and the other elephants at the Elephant Freedom program of Elephant Nature Park. All the elephants here were adopted, rescued from mistreatment in industries like illegal logging, the circus, riding camps, and cultural/religious exhibitions. They're given a new home with a new family, and, like with Punyaa, who's only been at ENP for a week, it can be a challenging transition. He's still being accepted into the herd, and is still in the process of regrowing his natural instincts, after having them broken by training. These elephants are awe-inspiring, and I feel very lucky to have spent such an intimate, heartwarming day with them 🐘💕
Her ignition may have taken an average of five tries to start, her battery may have eventually died, she may have struggled on hills and whined at high speeds, but for 96 hours, Patricia was my literal ride or die. Bless you, Patty, for staying strong during our off-road adventures and 200km of memories. 🛵💨💕 (also #photobombdog)
Chapter IX - The Gates of Judgment: I watched wordlessly, breath caught in fearful anticipation, as the fifty-odd youths were led past the throngs of trapped, tortured souls - whose hands twisted, wrenched, and vied for a grip on lives that were no longer theirs - through the curving, horned gate, and before the blazing eyes of the blade-wielding Eternal Judges, whose divine sentencing would whisk the children onward to blessed Paradise, or else drag them downward to join the damned in the Inferno. Jk the White Temple is super weird and this moment made it all the more confusing and hilarious. ❤️☠️❤️
I honestly had no idea what to expect of Bangkok, but today's few hours of walking around was the most pleasant surprise. There's so much greenery everywhere, and anyone I spoke to replied with a smile on their face. It's a busy, bustling city, but I already feel such a homey charm.