Slinging the blues at the Raffles Hotel

The Toronto Star | Thursday, July 5th, 2012

SINGAPORE – Some time after the third Singapore Sling I started to get loud.

“Another Sling, ol’ sport!” I bellowed, slapping the wood bar, sending peanut shells flying. The bartender looked nervous. He also looked like he was 15 – scrawny, insignificant.

Never mind that one Sling was $20 – half my lean backpacker per diem. Or the fact that it was a terrible drink – pink, frothy and sweet, with enough gin to knock out a mule, or make you into one. But there were things that you had to do while in Singapore, and sipping Singapore Slings at Raffles Hotel’s Long Bar, where the drink was invented, was one of them.

I had stumbled into a time capsule. Read on…

Cambodia museum a stark reminder of terrible history

The Toronto Star | Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Phnom Penh_Photo credit Cindy Fan

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA—She looks like me, the young woman in the photo. Same roundness of face, same straight black hair that rebelliously flares out at the ends. Like me, her lips downturn slightly at the corners when faced with something serious. She’s clever, I can tell — a spark in the eyes. Her gaze pierces through the display glass into me. She’s tagged with the number 3.

462 has her sleeping baby in her arms. She weeps. 10 is a boy with cherubic cheeks.

It’s a wonder that the Khmer Rouge were so meticulous in documenting the people sent to Security Prison 21 (S-21) when they would simply be starved, horrifically tortured for months until they confessed to something just to end the suffering, then shipped to the killing fields to be executed. Read on…