Saturday, March 31, 2012

Vietnam Remnants Museum

K. Hoar and I have spent most of our time in Ho Chi Minh City relaxing, exploring, and doing some serious eating. We did, however, decide to go to the War Remnants Museum. After reading a couple of ex-patriot blogs about how biased and one-sided the displays were, I was a bit hesitant, but after thinking back to all the articles I read about the Vietnam War in U.S. Foreign Policy (yes, Lehmann I read them ALL), I reminded myself of how imperialist we were.

The museum boasts two main attractions—a collection of American helicopters, tanks, guns, and bombs outside the building and photographs documenting anti-war demonstrations around the world and the after-effects of Agent Orange, a chemical that American soldiers sprayed across the country.

 After walking around the museum for a couple hours, I found myself fixating on a few key ideas/thoughts. The first was that the Vietnamese did a really good job of documenting anti-war demonstrations around the world, and happily there was a whole section on the protests that took place in the United States. When I saw a couple of photographs of young hippies at Berkeley, I thought to myself, my mom is probably one of those fuzzy blobs in the background. A proud moment, I must say. But honestly, it was nice that the people were making a point that not all Americans wanted the war and that many were against it. Yet still, I heard several Europeans muttering about what the United States did. I even heard one woman stop her son, saying look what the Americans did. No lady, look at what our stupid government did.

This little moment brings me to my next point. While reading the information on the wall, I came across several quotes from the French, calling out the United States for committing crimes of war and genocide. This frustrates me SO MUCH. Not that people shouldn’t be keeping America in check, but that I feel like Westerners love to point out other countries’ mistakes while ignoring their own. Like hey France, remember when you built a volleyball court on the mass graves in Murambi, Rwanda after watching people clean the blood-soaked floors. Don’t even get me started on what the French colonizers did. But honestly people. Geez. Like next time you visit Washington D.C. go to the Holocaust Museum and then to the Native American/Indian one. As most of you know, touring the Holocaust Museum is a pretty intense experience, full of horrific photographs, incredibly difficult to watch videos, and, famously, piles upon piles of the dead’s shoes. But take a five-minute walk to the Indian Museum, and you won’t see much about the Trail of Tears. Urgh. It’s just so incredibly frustrating for me. If any country is going to call out another then that government should also investigate its own past. It’s too easy to keep shifting the blame onto everyone else, while not taking a hard look at what we have ignored.

One last thing. I think that what happened in Vietnam was absolutely despicable and ultimately wrong. There is now way around that. But I’m not a hundred percent convinced that what happened constitutes genocide, which is defined as “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group.” And I saw several plaques of quotes from prominent human rights associations that what happened in Vietnam was genocide. And I guess that what I’m getting at is that just because something is awful and horrible doesn’t mean that it’s genocide. I believe that to call it that downplays the events that unfolded in Rwanda, Darfur, and Germany among other countries. Maybe downplays is the wrong word—it just isn’t true to what happened. And it can kind of desensitize people to future genocides if we start calling every awful and bad situation genocide. I sort of think of it as similar to politicians calling each other Nazis. Maybe an official’s decision was authoritarian or even totalitarian and that makes it a bad decision definitely, but it was not a Nazi decision. To say that trivializes the Nazis and all of the experiences of those that suffered under Hitler. I guess that I just think that we really have to think hard about how we label things.  Hmm, I’m not saying this in the best way possible. I know. I apologize. But hopefully, you can kind of get what I’m saying.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Internet Censorship

I first realized that I wanted to be a political science major when I wrote a paper on North Korea. And while I don’t recall the exact subtopic, I do remember reading quite a bit about how totalitarian governments function—how leaders establish legitimacy, maintain control over almost every detail of their people’s lives, and survive in a world order dominated by democratic states. I was also really interested in how such a government psychologically manipulates its people, convincing families to turn on neighbors and children to give testimony against their parents. Understanding that these types of societies are fragile, most totalitarian leaders do whatever it is in their power to prevent rebellions, and I was always fascinated by what means they took and how the people reacted.

Since I can’t travel to North Korea or Eritrea, countries like Vietnam are just about the closest thing to a totalitarian state that I can get to, and it is still a long way away from that. I know that Freedom House is not the be-all-end-all ranking system, but I like to use it. For 2011, it ranks Vietnam as “Not Free.” For those of you who don’t know, Freedom House does reports on just about every country in the world; it looks at political rights and civil liberties among other things to give each country a score, and then it ranks them as “Free,” “Partly Free,” or “Not Free.” Here is its most recent report on Vietnam from 2011:

But basically, I started thinking about all of this when I realized that facebook is somewhat banned here. You can’t access it if you type in but, if you google proxy facebook sites, there are TONS. So it’s not really that difficult to get on.  So I started reading about internet censorship in Vietnam, and I found that the government refuses to acknowledge that it has blocked facebook and, therefore, the blocks are pretty weak. If the government really wanted to take a harder stance on preventing access to the site, it would have to take much stronger measures and admit that it is behind it all. That would be a very unpopular move amongst the Vietnamese youth. So instead, the government just limits access to the “common folk.” Here’s some more reading for those of you that are interested in this:  Also, I think I read that the people are formally guaranteed a kind of free speech, but that protection is often contradicted by local laws or government actions.

I guess that a lot of governments like Vietnam worry not that people will say awful things about leaders on facebook, but that they will use the site as a way of uniting people against governments in power. This all happened before the Arab Spring Movements, and I won’t say that facebook was absolutely instrumental in the rebellions, but I do think it made them logistically easier. But I guess, my point is that made Vietnam feared that the site would be used in a similar way.

In other news, as I’m writing this, the theme song to Titanic is blasting. AHAHAHAHA! Preparation for the movie coming out in 3D, I guess.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Catching Up on Lost Time

Hanging out with Legs and Mikey in Vietnam only confirms what I already knew—the only way to really understand/see a place is to live there. Or, if you’re interested in shortcuts, to visit someone living in that place who will show you around. Ho Chi Minh City has been pretty great thus far; it’s honestly more like Bangkok than Phnom Penh. And while it’s not yet as built up as Thailand’s capital, Ho Chi Minh City seems to suggest that Vietnam is definitely a newly industrializing rather than developing country. Traveling overland, I was struck by the juxtaposition between Cambodia and its neighbors. Obviously, I’m no expert on Southeast Asia or anything, but I think that by driving across these three countries, you can really see just how devastating a conflict can be and how far genocide can set a country back. I’m sure that that is too much of an oversimplification of a very complex situation, but it’s still something to think on.

On to less serious subjects, Legs and Mikey live in an amazing apartment a short ride away from the backpackers district. I swear, this place would run you at least a couple thousand in D.C. or New York City. 

 Katie and I have already taken over our room. 

 And this lovely poster that Mikey and Legs put up over our beds really made us feel at home. It’s supposed to help up have baby boys. 

Anyways, we haven’t really done much sightseeing, which is honestly fine by me. I’m a little pooped. After a bit, temples, forts, and palaces all start to look the same, and the history is lost on me. Although, I do think that we’ll probably go to some war museums and see the tunnels. But for the past two days, we’ve just been hanging out, going to the movies, and eating. Tonight, for instance, we stayed up playing hearts until 2 am, and it was so hot that none of us were fully clothed. Legs, Katie, and I were pantsless and Mikey was only wearing a towel. Felt like we were back at Hamilton again, except this time around pants are bogus. New trend??

That’s all for now. We’re planning out adventures right now to a water park, Hanoi, and Halong Bay. So I promise more pictures and interesting stories to come.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Trio Reunited

If you had asked me March of senior year, where will you be in one year, I probably would have said in New York City or Washington D.C. living with Legs and Katie and working at some research institute. Either I am seriously failing or definitely winning depending on how you look at it, and I honest to god never would have predicted this. But in less than 9 hours, the great, wonderful, terrific, amazing trio will finally be reunited in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. 

I am seriously overstimulated. Just a 6 hour bus ride away!! Many many many adventures to come!!! EEEEEEK!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Killing Fields

During my semester abroad in Rwanda and Uganda, I studied conflict and genocide—how a country collapses into violence, how an individual can murder a neighbor with a machete, how a people move forward, how reconciliation begins, and how justice must be made. And after numerous trips to both Western and African memorials, I came to accept and understand my reactions to the pictures of children and broken skulls. Yet I am still surprised at how easily I can walk on dirt littered with bone shards, sit underneath a tree that the Khmer Rouge threw babies against, and side-step pieces of decaying clothes. I can so quickly emotionally detach myself from the horror of genocide, and I haven’t yet decided if that is a great strength or a great weakness.

My SIT program focused a lot on establishing a collective memory and how that memory shapes the political, social, and economic transformation of a country post-genocide; in short, does it bring the people closer towards reconciliation and lasting peace or back towards violence?  A subtopic within this conversation centers on how a nation memorializes the atrocity.  In the West, museums (think the Holocaust Memorial in Washington D.C.) are often incredibly factual, filled with videos, details, photographs, and artifacts. They strive to paint a clear picture of how something like the Holocaust happened, and they try to get visitors to grasp the scale of the genocide. But they are careful not to be too gruesome. Yet in Rwanda and Cambodia, many of the memorials are simply rooms with bodies preserved in lime, bones, and skulls. These sites force people to confront the atrocity—to stand in the same place as the victims and to see the physical evidence of their machete-beaten bodies.

Both have their strengths and weaknesses. I think that Western memorials allow us to put up a screen between our lives and the lives of the victims. We cannot see their bodies. We are not walking on the ground they walked on. We are not confined in the rooms that they were confined to. And we do not directly speak or interact with the survivors. But this attachment allows us to get a well-rounded understanding of the genocide and that might help us see warning signs in the future.  African and Asian memorials force us to confront the brutality and horrific nature of genocide. They force us to see the body of one individual so that the statistic of a million may sink in. At the same time, I think that seeing a body or a skull is so traumatizing that many of us simply shut down immediately, preventing us from making that connection that is so essential.

I often wonder why I shut down. Does it mean that I can’t fully comprehend the enormity of each single life lost? Can I not move beyond the statistic? And if I can’t when I’m literally standing on a path of shattered bones, then how can I expect anyone else to. Because achieving that—mourning the individual rather than looking only at the statistic—really is the best way to prevent dehumanization and genocide. 

Shards of bone and a tooth. Every so often, the groundskeepers must walk the paths to collect bones that surface. They say that the dead are still not at peace yet. 

This is the tree I mentioned earlier--the one that the Khmer Rouge threw babies against.

Remnants of the victims' clothing.

Photographs of the victims at the Tuol Sleng, which was named S-21. Here, the Khmer Rouge systematically documented the lives of their victims before torturing them and forcing them to sign confessions before taking them to the killing fields.

The cells that victims were forced to live in for months during their torture sentences. 

A quick side note before ending, I'm sure that many people believe that it is impolite to take photographs of a site where such atrocities were committed. They think it is rude and disrespectful. But I would counter that I know in my heart of hearts why I take these pictures, and I believe that showing them to others who cannot come and visit is really an extension of these memorials' missions--never again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Angkor Wat and Rural Cambodia

Walking across the Cambodian border, I first thought, well, I’m back in the developing world, and two hours in a shared taxi later only confirmed my initial feelings—trash everywhere, miles of land set aside for agriculture, and every so often the occasional small town of buildings constructed of sheet metal and crumbling concrete.

Siem Reap, however, is such a tourist hub that is seems to break the mold. Here, there were a number of fancy hotels, western-style restaurants, smoothly paved clean roads, and wireless internet everywhere. Our guesthouse, in particular, was run by a couple of ex-pats, and it felt just as nice if not nicer than places I have paid 20 dollars for, not 4. It just goes to show how much tourism can really change the trajectory of a town; Angkor Wat, a temple complex just outside of Siem Reap, has at times been and may still be the largest tourist destination in southeast Asia. And while, these sites will always been around to generate money, it doesn’t seem like any of this capital will extend outwards into other parts of Cambodia. 

These two photos are from Angkor Wat. It was built in the 12th century first as a Hindu Temple, but later converted to a Buddhist temple. Really interesting tidbit of history that I think speaks to Cambodia's relationship with India: the myth of how the country was created basically centers on an Indian prince marrying a Cambodian princess, and her father drinking up all the water over Cambodia to give the Indian prince a dowry. 

I took these at the Temple Bayon, where there are literally 40 engraved faces of Buddha. 

These are from what I like to call the Jungle Temple, and I even asked a fellow traveler if he knew where the "jungle one was." Really, though, it's called Ta Prohm, and it seemed to be even more popular than Angkor Wat. I wish that we had done this first, because we decided to bike from our hotel to the temples and, once inside the complex, we took the long route. In total, I think we did about 15+ miles and, so by Ta Prohm, I was sweating buckets/ready for a cold shower.

Anyways. After two days and three nights in Siem Reap, Katie and I took a bus to Phnom Penh, where we will stay for another three days before leaving to Ho Chi Minh City. The ride totaled about six hours and, while listening to some jams, I got to really observe the rural countryside. In comparison to Rwanda and Uganda, there are a lot more towns, which are closer together and, although the houses seem just as dilapidated, they are bigger and look more solid. Trash, though, is everywhere, and the worst is that much of it is so close to water. But I won’t get started on my water tangent now.

One thing I did notice is that the only nice buildings in these townships are temples. Now, maybe these buildings reflect a united effort of each community to build something lasting a beautiful, and to have ownership over something, what’s the word, nice. I completely understand that. But another part of me wondered if having such an ornate place to meditate or focus on religion somewhat contradicts the principles of Buddhism. Now, I’m no expert. This is all just thinking aloud. But doesn’t a big tenet of Buddhism focus on letting go of both material and emotional attachments as a way of reaching enlightenment. Why, then, would it be important to have such a beautiful temple with such (expensive?) detail when it seemed that some members of the community were begging? Just something to think on.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Final Thoughts on Thailand

Upon leaving Thailand, I tried to think about the lasting impressions that the country had had on me. It goes without saying that Thailand is one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world—lush jungles, endless green rice patties, limestone rock faces, turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and palm trees as far as the eye can see. And while I cannot wait to go back, I don’t really have much to say about Thailand in the same way I did about India. Maybe it’s that I’m not as familiar with the country’s political history, that I wasn’t there long enough to get a full picture of development and inequality, or that I just really didn’t fall in love with the people in the same way that I did in Rwanda. For me, putting aside the beaches and waterfalls, Thailand is nothing really to write home about. And in all honesty, I think it’s a good thing, as I tend to be more interested in a country’s challenges rather than its successes. Right now, for instance, I am LOVING reading all about Cambodia’s history to get a better understanding of why the violence happened before spending a day visiting the killing fields.

On a more personal level, I think I was a bit too distracted by things going on back home to really be present in Thailand. As frustrated as I am with myself and that situation, I just have to recognize that that is just a part of traveling, because as much as we might try to get away, we really are almost always going to be connected to and emotionally involved in what goes on back home. And I feel like having to move beyond everything that is happening two oceans away is a challenge in and off itself that has really taught me a lot about myself. If I’m being absolutely honest with myself, I’m still pretty much at an all time low and struggling to come to terms with how lost I feel, but I think the fact that I have been able to do that in a foreign country is a good thing. I haven’t yet gotten on a plane home to fix everything.  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Leaving the Island and Making Peace with Opposites

After a number of days that neither me nor Katie can remember, we decided to postpone our ferry ride on our last night in Koh Phi Phi Don. And if you ask any ex-pat that’s how it all starts. Countless people we spoke with said that they came for two days and stayed for two years.

I would say that living on the island was very similar to going to school at Hamilton. Both are very small communities that are somewhat isolated from the outside world, complete with a unique set of social norms and cultures unto their own. Everyone seems to know everyone. There are local hangouts where you just know to go on a certain day, and beaches far from the main isthmus that are highly coveted quite places away from the strip of bars and sunburnt tourists.  In short, staying on Koh Phi Phi and getting to know some of the ex-pats there made me feel like I was entering a bubble. The only difference between the island and Hamilton is that people stay at school for four years (or five for the super seniors) but, there, everyone seems to come and go.

While I definitely see the appeal to just canceling my plane ticket home, getting a bartending job, and spending endless days letting my skin freckle, I don’t think that this island is the place for me. It’s comforting, and it appeals to the inner hermit in me that wants to put down my roots every time I stay in a place for longer than a week, but by the end I started to feel a bit claustrophobic—similar to how I feel in Tennessee sometimes and even Hamilton. Because the other part of me is too curious to stay in one isolated place for too long. There are cultures to study, political systems to learn about, conspiracies theories to flush out, countries to monitor, and issues to raise.

And most importantly, part of this traveling experience is supposed to teach me how to keep moving forward, to push through changes and accept them, and to become more comfortable with my fear of the unknown and the things that are out of my control. NOT to drop my bags, rent a bungalow, and stay in one place to avoid change. Because most days if you asked me if I could be traveling around Asia or at home with a job, friends, routine, and a settled life, I would almost always pick the latter.

Pretty much my whole life, I’ve felt like a person comprised of opposites—incredibly curious and interested in the world but afraid of travel, someone who moves around a lot but would almost always prefer to stay put, willing to jump off of a cliff but afraid of fish, someone who seeks balance but who has a bit of an all or nothing personality, someone who desperately wants independence but who really depends a little too much on everyone else, shy and loud, someone who enjoys bucket showers but goes crazy without internet and, finally, a Libra Dragon for those of you who know anything about astrology.

I need to learn how to accept all of those parts of myself, but I also need to understand that sometimes doing what a part of me wants means triggering feelings of anxiety or discomfort. One day I will have a settled life, and I won’t feel homesick or anxious about change. But I also know that that time will only come after having the experiences that I am having now and growing in a way that will help me make peace with all of my opposites.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Listening to the Silent D and Cruising in Thailand

Yesterday I had one of the best days I've had since beginning this trip. Nat, Katie, and I decided to spend 60 dollars to go on a 7 hour sailing trip that included cliff jumping, trips to Monkey Beach and Maya Beach (where the movie The Beach was filmed with Leonardo Dicaprio), snorkeling, caving, and exploring the different islands are Koh Phi Phi Don. I don't think I've ever put money to better use. 

This is the main bay of the island.

Feeding the monkeys who can get really aggressive about their food.

Hamilton College Women's Rugby Football Club does Thailand.

Seriously, this place is GORGEOUS.

Just going caving. Once the Thai mafia controlled these caves, because the nests of the birds that live here are mashed up into this drink that is sold for like 100 dollars as an aphrodisiac. Now the government watches these places. 

Walking in the footsteps of Leo on Maya Beach.

Cave paintings that are at least 800 years old.

Finishing off the day with a beautiful sunset. LOVE IT!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Indian Ocean? Check.

Guess who checked the third ocean off her list of oceans to swim in?? This guy did. And while I will always be partial to the Atlantic, particularly the big cold waves off of Nantucket, I love the Indian Ocean! Ko Phi Phi Don, a small island 42 kilometers off of Krabi on the mainland, is absolutely breathtaking. Today we took a ferry over and explored the main isthmus of the island but, because it's so overcrowded, we're going to trek north to find some quieter places with bigger waves. 

No joke. Today I kept asking myself, is this real life??? is this gonna be forever?? More pictures and adventures to come when we switch hotels and hopefully have internet? 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bangkok, The Venice of Asia?

Bangkok is a city that feels both incredibly familiar and unfamiliar. Wealthier districts have McDonalds, shopping malls, movie theaters, advertisements for American products, clean streets, and massive sky scrapers. Yet other areas, like the one where we stayed, seem completely separate from this westernization apart from the 7-11s on every corner, of course. Here, development seems a lot more evenly spread across the country than in India. Even the rural parts, which I saw from my train window, seem further along that places like Varanasi. So I would say that Thailand, especially Bangkok, seems to better fit the newly industrializing category that I had in my mind before coming to Asia. And the two countries definitely seem incredibly distinct from one another with far more differences than similarities. I'll be interested to see how Cambodia compares to what I've seen thus far.

Politically, Thailand is also an incredibly interesting country. It was never colonized by a European power; although, I do think that the British were somewhat involved here. Today, Thailand's government is a constitutional monarchy whereby the head of state is the king and the head of government is the prime minister. It's difficult to walk more than 20 feet without seeing a large picture or painting of the king; they are all over Bangkok. And while the country seems stable and this structure seems to work, Thailand has changed their constitution many times, and just a couple of years ago a military junta took over the country. It seems that democracy still has a long way to go here, but I feel like I need to do some more research/nerd out to really get a sense of what's going on.

Anyways, Katie and I spent our second day on the river, exploring the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, and Wat Arun. Here, there are all sorts of canals and waterways throughout the city, which is why some people call in the Venice of Asia.

These are some views from our river boat trip that Khoar and I took on a little boat that is essentially a taxi--very cool. I absolutely love being on the water in the same way that people like to hike or climb mountains or whatever. And so, while I could have been happy as a clam riding the boat up and down the river all day, Katie wanted to see some temples and the palace so we got off at pier number star?? All the others were numbered except for this stop. 

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew were so incredibly beautiful! Just the detailing on all the walls and the ceilings were so unreal. I can't even really begin to explain it, but walking along these huge buildings painting with gold and tiled with mirrors made me feel like I was in a movie. Cliche, I know. 

These last two photos are from Wat Arun, which is also known as the Temple of Dawn. You can climb up the temple, and the steps are INCREDIBLY steep. I almost fell quite a few times, but there is a beautiful view of the city from the top.

Later that night, Katie and I went out with some new friends to dinner with the owner of our guesthouse, which was great. Her name is Joy, and she's been pretty instrumental is showing us what living is like for the majority of Thai people in Bangkok, taking us to food markets and ordering us local dishes. And instead of taking it easy the night before our journey southwards, we went out to see what the nightlife is like in the city. I tried some rice wine, which I probably will never drink again, and the local beer, which was pretty good. 

That's all for now. Had a stressful day of getting scammed. No fun. As soon as I left India, I let my guard down. But tomorrow it's off to Ko Phi Phi and the beach!!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Shampoo 1, Ginger 0

I don't know about you guys but, when I get stressed about things in my life, I tend to get upset over the little things like the grocery store not having my favorite kind popcorn or Wolfie playing his music too loudly or the jerk taking over my seat on the plane. Today was one of those kinds of days. After another 15 hour train ride, I got to the hotel only to realize that my shampoo had spilled all over my bag. THAT WAS THE LAST STRAW. I flipped a shit. Not really. I scrubbed my bag, clothes, and backpack silently while trying not to cry and mumbling about how fed up I was/wanted to go home. When I got out of the shower, I realized that I'm really just stressed out about life, about graduate rejections, and about jobs, because really, if anything, my backpack now just smells like jasmine and Asian silk. 

Khoar, fully understanding the issue at hand, suggested that we got to one of the biggest shopping malls in Bangkok to take advantage of the food court. A girl after my heart.

While eating my fries, I started thinking about how the mall was kind of a symbol for globalization. I mean just from my chair I could see a Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, DQ, and a number of other American companies. But in the US, how often do we see Asian or African chains in our shopping centers? I know that we import cars and there are some big companies that are obviously foreign, but other than that, the exchange seems pretty one way. As Americans we can travel around the world and, if at anytime, we are feeling homesick for some disgusting processed food, it can usually be found within a 10 mile radius. It's just a bit sad, too, that this is what people think about when they think about the United States--McDonalds, coke, Hollywood, and Obama. Obama, I'm fine with, but the rest??? 

Don't worry (especially parental units), we didn't spend the whole day in an air-conditioned American-look-alike mall. We left after lunch and spent the rest of the day exploring temples! 

Inside the Golden Mount, one of the tallest temples in Bangkok. 

After the Golden Mount, we got in a tuk tuk and drove around the old city to see another smaller wat (word for temple), the Marble Wat, and a 105 foot tall Buddha. 

A few photos from the Marble Temple, seriously the most gorgeous wat I've been to thus far. This British guy, who has been living in Bangkok for 7 years, said I had to see it. 

This is the 105 foot tall Buddha. Apparently, this time of year the monks and neighborhood hold something equivalent to a state fair just around the wat. So Hoar and I stumbled across cotton candy, popcorn, balloon games, bingo, a small Farris Wheel, and a goat petting station. It was great. We observed some unusual food like fried squid eggs, lots of different kinds of assorted meat balls, and neon-colored sketchy drinks that I, of course, had to try. 

Back at the hostel now. Getting ready to bunker in and do some reading. And tomorrow, it's right back to another day trying to figure out who the fuck drew the maps in our guidebooks.