Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cambodia: Hankering for an Angkoring

Tourism in Cambodia falls into two categories: Angkor Wat and death. That we may end on an up-note, let’s begin with the latter.

But first, some historical context:

I. Apocalypse Then

Cambodia is a country that’s still trying to reconcile itself with the horrors of its past. I don’t mean the 2001 film Tomb Raider, though that does require a great deal of reconciliation, but rather the Khmer Rouge.

Founded in 1968, the Khmer Rouge was a group of Cambodian communists. Under the leadership of schoolteacher-turned-psychopath Pol Pot, the group blossomed, bludgeoned, and conquered Cambodia by 1975. (To put this in perspective, I’ve been working on The Judgment of Quintus for 8 years. Pol Pot took over a country in 7.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

We'll Always Have Disneyland Paris

Since 1945, American culture has functioned less as friendly emissary than zombie horde. Marauding across continents, it devours brains, assimilates everything in its path, and leaves behind only ruin and childhood obesity. But as this onslaught spreads throughout Europe, one nation has boldly drawn its Maginot line in the sand. I refer, of course, to France.

Being an expert on France (I’ve seen Scarlet Pimpernel and Les Mis), I can speak authoritatively of its culture. Unlike America and its melting pot, France defines a fixed version of Frenchness which its government encourages everyone to upkeep. Roaming outside the bounds of this Frenchness is frowned upon, and succumbing to any aspect of American culture is expressly forbidden.

To better understand the struggle between American and French cultures, we need not look further than Marne-la-Vallée, a sleepy hamlet just 20 miles east of Paris. You may not know Marne-la-Vallée by name, but perhaps you’ve heard of a local business it contains: Euro Disney.