Khmer Rouge

My landlord (who is one of the coolest landlords ever for a lot of other reasons besides this one), on hearing my around-the-world plans, loaned me a huge stack of books from his recent seven week stint in Asia. Lonely Planet's Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea, and Taiwan, Fodor's Thailand, China, Hong Kong, and Japan, and the Eyewitness Japan. I tend to favour the Rough Guide when I'm travelling because I like them best for descriptions of sites (not as opinionated as LP, and fairly detailed) but I'll probably use LP most for this trip as they're widely acknowledged to be the best for cheap lodgings. Japan, Korea, and Taiwan aren't on my travel list: I'd like to go there, but the cost of living in Japan and Korea is higher than the U.S., so they don't lend themselves to cheap travel. Taiwan is only marginally cheaper.

I've been reading the history section in the Cambodia guide, and that's rough going. The history of Cambodia isn't something I'd heard about before, although technically I did live through the rise and fall of the Khmer Rouge. I was 12 and living in Canada when they were slaughtering somewhere between one and three million of their fellow countrymen. Something to understand here was that these weren't conflict fatalities: these were people killed for a difference of opinion. If you didn't agree with the Khmer Rouge, you were killed. It was the Vietnamese who came across the border and freed Cambodia from one of the most repressive regimes in recorded history. Not that that meant peace for Cambodia, as it struggled with civil war for a couple more decades. The U.S. actually put some money into the Khmer Rouge after it was driven from power, which is simply beyond my understanding. Cambodia has only recently become open to tourism again.