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November 19, 2007


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I've always shared your taste in television, MD. I was right there with you on West Wing, the Black Donnellys, Studio 60, and The Wire. Sadly, all those shows met an early demise. I think you cursed them. What new shows are you watching now? I want to make sure I don't get invested in them before they get cancelled!


When I was in college my roommate and I took our studen loan checks straight from the mailbox to the travel agent. By the end of the summer we had been to 9 countries in Western Europe. Greatest fucking trip ever.

I'll think of a question, although I doubt getting you to fart is as hard as you make it out to be.

"it's" in place of "its"
Oh, no.


Here's another tv-related question for you, MD. Who do you think would win in a fight between Jack Bauer and Mike Tyson?


Did you ever sneak into the Clarement Hotel in Berkeley to slide down the fire escape?

C'mon! Tell the truth!

Oh, and here are some of my own memories of growing up in Berkeley (I grew up a stone's throw from Clark Kerr, the Cal dorm where my daughter lived, and for which we, ironically, paid exorbitant out of state tuition!)




A friend of mine from NZ came to NY looking for a job. He graduated with honors with a business degree from Auckland University and had worked a while at a top 3 accounting firm. Then he did the Kiwi thing & travelled.

when he came here I said "Oh, no problem for you to find a job, with your intelligence, experience & all the travelling you did... wow!"

None of the Wall Street firms would look at him. He didn't follow the usual trajectory. He took time off. He travelled.



Hi MD, this is Michelle from Portland who emailed you a while back about your awesome blog. I am here in Singapore now. We just moved here a few weeks ago and am beginning to realize a whole new world in SE Asia. Mike just left for Bangkok on business tonight and I'm home alone with the kids. I applaud your travel bug and your zest for life. Live it up in Cambodia. It's also on my list while I'm here. Cheers.




The only thing I love more than traveling is hearing/learning foreign languages. My ultimate dream is to live somewhere long enough to become truly fluent in another language.

One thing that might get more American's to travel would be if they realized how much easier it is to get laid when you are overseas. I've never really been much of a chick magnet here (though I guess I did okay - sort of a niche market)but when I was traveling in Europe after college I was a juggernaut of copulation. The "exotic factor" was somehow working for me. This was all well and good until I met the heinous ex. I was attracted to her own "exotic factor" and failed to see, due to a cloud of hormones and not understanding her culture, that she was a horrific train wreck of a person.

My advice for my fellow Americans:

1. Get out and see the rest of the world. We are not really as "free" as we like to bray to the rest of the world, and there are a lot of things we could learn from other cultures.

2. Avoid Americans' while traveling. Sorry, but they will often turn ouuut to be right wingers who will embarrass you.

3. Avoid that crazy dutch bitch. It's not that she is from a different, more plain-spoke culture, she's nuts and will make your life a living hell until you dump her and rebuild your life from the blood soaked ashes. Oops...did I share too much?


"Why have we not learned from the past to stop the atrocities currently happening in Darfur?"

I think it's because the world doesn't really care about what happens in Africa. The western world tends to suffer from "missing white girl" syndrome. Since late 2003, more than 2.5 million Sudanese have been displaced and more than 500,000 have died. What more is it going to take to end this genocide?


Isn't Cambodia incredible? Are you taking the trip out to Tsol Sleng? (spelling most likely incorrect) it's a heart breaker.

What a fantastic country. Last time I was there our bus (public) hit a water buffalo (also public) and we sat on the side of the road for six hours in the middle of nowhere. If your bus crashes in the middle of a Cambodian nowhere, how does one find water?


Oh, I have not traveled internationally in way too long. Thanks for the vicarious living.


Ah, travelers like you inspire me MD. I became a US Citizen JUST so I could travel (a re-entry permit isn't really good enough). Oh and vote, that's important too. Shhh...don't tell the guvment. Hopefully by next summer, you'll find me in a another country. If only for a little bit. My goal is to one day be able to spend at least a month in one country per year.

I think it could be easily done. Ask the bosses to be able to telecommute for work a few weeks, take a few weeks as vacation time, rent a house for a month and try to live like a local. That would truly rock.

Cambodia is one of those countries on my list. Could it be that we have not learned anything from tragedies like the Killing Fields because we would like to deny our own culpability? I mean, the US supported the Khmer Rouge during and around the time of the Killing Fields if I remember my history correctly because they were a regime that was against the Communist Vietnamese. It wasn't until after the Cambodians tried to invade Vietnam (with US support) that the Viet Cong fought back and took over by setting up a puppet government. I mean, how many Americans know this? George Bush in a recent speech certainly didn't seem to know but it's right there in a lot of history books.

Do Americans really want to know how their complacency, lack of knowledge about the world, and inability to actually get out decent voting numbers to choose effective leaders affect the rest of the world? Why is the only country willing to invest extensively in Africa right now China? Why does China invest there? To appease its need for cheap resources. Why does it need cheap resources? To fuel its ever growing manufacturing sector which supplies American homes with cheap crap that we can't live without. Sure America has no interest in Africa. We are all connected and most of us don't even know it. And the world keeps going round and round...


As one of those younger people who asked you for travel advice many months ago, I want to thank you for taking the time to e-mail me your suggestions. They were totally inspiring. I just took a job with a consulting company solely because they promised me the freedom to work in any of their overseas branch offices. I can't wait. First stop...Paris!!!

Hopefully by the time I'm your age (not to make fun of your 39 years,) I'll have made it to 47 countries too!

Angie in Texas

Why, after centuries of evolution, industrialization and technical breakthroughs, is toilet paper exempt from better design? Surely the current design of TP is not the apex of its potential . . .


MD, I just read somewhere that Mick Jagger is 65. He's older than my dad! And while my dad sits on the couch in his underwear all day, Mick is still rocking the stage and dating models. How does he do it? Is he on steroids? B-12 shots? Flaxseed oil? What do you think the secret is?


Is the Peanut multi-lingual? Hubby and I come from different parts of India and speak diff languages but our son speaks only English. Attempts at increasing his net lang known count have so far come unstuck. I get a 'eh wha?' and a quick dash out of the room. Any suggestions? Or, like you say, life is too short and fuck the languages?!

6th Floor Blogger

I like to travel, even if it's just to a 'nothing' town in America that i've never been to. I seem to have less interest in a lot of Asia and Africa, but I think a lot of that stems from the language and cultural differences that would make me feel so out of place. But I guess part of the fun is feeling out of place. while once in a while chilling on a beach is fun, I'd much rather see things and do things on vacation. Lounging and drinking and beaching can easily be accomplished on weekends.


Cambodia is one of the most amazing places I have ever visited and I was excited to see you write about this beautiful country. My country count is not quite at 47, but so far I have visited 25 countries. And, since I'm just 23, I have a lot more to see! I, too, have caught the insatiable travel bug and don't plan on stopping any time soon, except that my first 9-to-5-type job puts a cramp on my travel style, even though I work for a travel website, go figure! Anyways, I agree that travel is undeniably the most influential thing you can do for yourself. It changes everything and my travels have shaped me in more ways than anything else has. Three years ago, during my junior year of college I participated in the study abroad program Semester at Sea (www.semesteratsea.com), where a bunch of college kids travel via cruise ship and circumnavigate the globe visiting about 10-12 different countries all the while taking enriching college classes. It's quite an experience to say the very least and what a way to see the world! I just thought I would share that idea with you (and your readers, for that matter) as something to think about doing for your daughter. They even offer parent trips so that you and your wife can share in her experience abroad. My parents joined me in Cambodia, and it was a pretty incredible experience to share with my parents. Have a good one in Cambodia and sip in some Angkor Beer, it's good stuff!


I've always been a silent reader/admirer until now. I had stumbled onto your blog one day and really liked it, although we have absolutely nothing in common. I have no kids, live in southern California, have no blog, and am just a Khmer girl trying to pay off her student loans before she turns 30 (which at this rate, may need to be extended to 40). See how wide and practically universal of an appeal your blog has? ^_^

Anyway, just the mention of my country of birth makes me giddy - but it could be the extra sugar in my coffee. Last time I went (December 2005-January 2006), the Khmers thought I was a Thai tourist and consequently talked alot of smack about me within earshot. Apparently, at 110 pounds and a little under 5', I'm a "chubby lil one who dresses funny." This is coming from the motorcyle taxi guys who are wearing a graying green Members Only jacket, acid-wash mommy jeans, a neon green baseball cap BACKWARDS, and faux alligator skin slippers! On the one hand, it's good to see the clothes my mom donated back in 1988 found its way to someone who could get better usage out of them - 17 years later. But on the other hand, OUCH, right? My own people ridiculing my dark blue Levi's and Urban Outfitters t-shirt. So, I was quite conflicted at the time. Should I call them out on it and risk getting targeted for a poorly orchestrated kidnapping which may or may not involve a ransom my local Khmer relatives may or may not be willing to pay - or keep a straight, oblivious face and get on with my day questioning my own fashion sense until the end of my own trip? You're lucky you're very obviously a tourist over there. You are spared knowing what humbling words they have to say about your wardrobe (ignorance is pure utter bliss in this realm) and people there can't use the guilt-trip-inducing-gimmick: "Oh, but we're both Khmer; help a brotha/sista out." I'm very much NOT looking forward to that when I go again this Christmas. But I am a hypocrite in this area, because if I find out that being Khmer can get me a discount, you bet I will use their gimmick on them: "How are you going to charge me a WHOLE DOLLAR for that fried banana? I could be your long-lost niece! Give it to me for half!" ... I had started out intending to ask you an interesting question, but I got side-tracked along the way and started talking about myself. My apologies. Hope you had fun or are having fun over there!

Anne Glamore

I accidentally read the 1st Dexter book and the damn thing was so good it kept me up all night finishing it.


1) I work at a 4 year university in North Carolina and I agree, education is NOT taken seriously at all in the US. Example: I get e-mails from students that say "hey, r u gonna be able to meet up wit me today?" I really wish I was joking.

2) John Denver is my hero, especially being from the south. There is always a country road that can take me home.

Thanks MD.


Do you take pictures of the local bathrooms? In my travels to various foreign countries I always seem to take photos of the local bathrooms, some of which were very unique and also bring home samples of the toilet paper...how about you?


You are my new hero.......


Here's a question for you:
"...one that makes me laugh so hard I fart..."
Speaking of farts, is it true that if I collect my farts in a kimchee jar over time, someone can open it up later on and smell them? I would like to know, as it will help determin what my siblings will be getting for christmas this year....


Wow. So many things to comment on, but I'll just go with American education. Case in point--my newcomer students from China are outshining many, many of their American counterparts after being here for just a year. In their second language. And they were "bad" students in China. Enough said.


Travel? sigh.

Mama Nabi

I think I might have mentioned somewhere that my mom 'dragged' me to Cambodia in 1997 - summer of 1997. Yeah, the craziest time to be in Cambodia - as we were getting off the plane, all the foreigners were getting on their planes to get out of there under advisement of the U.N. Rapid gunfire heard every night in our hotel room sure didn't make me feel too sleepy... and oh, the humidity and heat.
Despite all that, Cambodia stands out in my mind as one of the most beautiful countries I've visited... have you eaten by the river as your chef/fisherman prepares what is literally 'catch of the day'? Mmmmmm.
Question...? Well, since you've taught Peanut to enjoy farts so much... have you, MetroDog, and Peanut had your first farting contest yet? If so, who won? If not, my money's on the MetroDog... I suspect BossLady is far too evolved to join in...


That Larry King question made me laugh out loud. Good think I live alone.

As much as I would love to travel during the summer, the unfortunate truth is that I can't afford to do so. That may seem like a cop-out, and maybe it is, but I have five different school loan payments to make every month. For me, traveling means going back to Chicago for the summer.

On the other hand, my students are great travelers. When I asked them what they did over summer vacation, most of them said they went to Asia, Europe, or Africa. It must be nice to be affluent.

Papa Bradstein

50 years until we're working in call centers? You're an optimist, MD. After learning from you that the polluted air in China feels like asparagus pee in the eye, what other questions could I ever have for you? Safe travels home.

Kate C.

That gunmetal grey sky in the photo is amazing!


What's the wierdest/best place you've hidden money while traveling?

For me it was a tube of Prep. H that I kept with the Lomotil and TP. No one messed with that, not even the Albanian pickpockets on the train from Budapest to Prague...

Happy Thanksgiving.


Yeah, I got hooked on Dexter, too. I love the show, but admit it's given me a nightmare here and there. My husband says no way to naming any future child, Dexter.

I, too, have a love of travel, but with a social service job, I only have so much time to take away. Last time was to Viet Nam for five weeks for our honeymoon. Viet Nam was a mixed bag for us -- I'd recommend it to others, though. I think if I went again for a month, I'd focus on one half of the country.

Couple of travel questions for you: What is your favorite airplane meal? How do you stave off jetlag?

Well, cheerio!


i'm an adventurous eater.. i'll try anything once, and if i don't like it, i'll try it again, just to make sure.

my 2 worst cases of travel related food poisoning...

1) durian in thailand...i didn't quite mind the smell, but the fruit going down(or rather, coming out)...no good!
2)hamburger in london (from room service, no less) during a scary mad cow outbreak. i had to fly home the next day.. and a 6 hour flight with food poisoning is freaking torture. i went straight to the hospital from the airport, to get hooked up to iv fluids.

what was your worst case of travel related food poisoning? what did you eat, and where?


I have a friend who spent a lot of time in Cambodia doing relief work. While there, he found himself fascinated by the killing fields. Like you, he couldn't believe that men could commit such atrocious crimes of humanity. Since his trip, my friend has become somewhat of a death tourist. He's gone on to visit Auschwitz, Bosnia, and a few other places known for their atrocities. Morbid, isn't it? At the same timen my friend believes that it's important to remember the past so that we can learn never to repeat it. What do you think about this, MD?


I have a friend who spent a lot of time in Cambodia doing relief work. While there, he found himself fascinated by the killing fields. Like you, he couldn't believe that men could commit such atrocious crimes of humanity. Since his trip, my friend has become somewhat of a death tourist. He's gone on to visit Auschwitz, Bosnia, and a few other places known for their atrocities. Morbid, isn't it? At the same timen my friend believes that it's important to remember the past so that we can learn never to repeat it. What do you think about this, MD?


first of all, in response to mama nabi's farting contest inquiry, I think I would win over anybody.

secondly, we SHOULD all look like Pam. it's something I've strived for my entire life.

Cambodia is gorgeous...from what I've seen through my friends' camera lens. have a good trip back.


here is a question for you...

is your life really as interesting as it seems or do you think that you just have a good attitude about your life?


My current visit count is 16 countries on 4 continents, so I'm doing pretty well for an American. My question is what is the grossest thing you've eaten when traveling. I don't mean gross by squeamish U.S. standards, but by actual taste and texture.


Does #6 eaqual "roughing it?"


I LOVE John Denver. I could not be more excited that he is loved outside of the USA.


The comment about John Denver made me laugh out loud. I am not a world class traveler but I went to Ireland for St. Patrick's Day in 2003. We went to the pub and a guy was playing his guitar and sing "Take Me Home, Country Road". It is my favorite memory from that trip. Thanks for making me smile.

Devra Renner

What are we going to make for dinner? And the follow up, "Did I remember to defrost that chicken?" (Happened to be that what was on my mind as I was reading your post.)


What's your best "small world" story? I have two:

I was in Amsterdam talking to 2 British fellows, and it turned out they did work for the company I was a contractor for-- the chances for that are so small, I still get amazed thinking of it.

My other small world story: I was on top of the Eiffel Tower, and a couple walked by, the guy wearing a hat that said, Savannah. (I live in GA.) I said, hey, are you from Savannah? As he answered yes, another guy walked by and said, I'm from Columbus, GA! (2 hours south of Atlanta.)


i am finally delurking to say that i am so envious of you to visit a country of my heritage. being a chinese from cambodia and having had family and friends who have gone through the killing fields, i only wish that i can one day visit this beautiful country with my 1 year old daughter one day so that she may see its beauty with me ( i haven't been back since 3).


as for the question, and this is related to the (lack of) american education system, although you want peanut to enroll in the public school system, do you see yourself putting her in private/suburban schools so that she won't be in call centers in asia in 20 years?


Oh my god, I am with you, on the German guys in their itty bitty Speedos! Good grief! I seriously was in a pool with 3 of them a few month's back. I tried to avoid looking at those obscene looking swimming things. I was red faced. I tried not to look, yet I couldn't help myself at the same time! One even had a great big Buddha belly. I was blinded, I tell you, blinded!!! : )

I am always surprised how many Americans forgo traveling overseas myself. Heck, I live in Japan, I'm overseas on a daily basis, ha ha ha. And I'm surprised as heck on a daily basis as well. But it makes life interesting! : ) Only question I get tired of answering is, "do I use chopsticks?" I swear it is the first question I am always asked! : ) Or they complain to *me* about George Bush. Yeah like I can do anything about that! Ha ha ha!

Also one last thing I gotta add is. The show Dexter rocks! I love that freakin' show! I saw the whole first season in Japan on satellite. And I was so surprised to find out that the "ice truck killer guy" was Dexter's brother!!! Talk about a shocker!

Safe travels home and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! : )

Little Bird

Several years ago I travelled to Spain. At the time I had platinum blonde hair (natural red-brown) and it was way short. I was asked repeatedly if I was from Florida. My mother (whom I was travelling with) has white hair. They asked her the same thing.
When I last was abroad I was asked about american politics. I looked at the person and said that I had no idea, that I lived there and couldn't even begin to explain them. And that I though Bush was an ass.
I hope your trip is fun, I have yet to visit any asian country. My step-father, (the one who funds such family trips) is really unlikely to suggest such a trip. He was in Viet Nam, the war not the country, and refuses to even eat chinese food, something about the scent. He also refuses to tell us where he was stationed during that time. The stuff he has told us, is better left unsaid.

Kate C.

What's your favorite obscure museum?


Safe travels my friend. I am sure your experience with the man who lost his siblings through the Khmer Rouge genocides was nothing short of incredible and sad. Every teenager should see The Killing Fields in school.

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