More Tales of Bombs and Buildings

Kim Fay is a travel writer and photographer. She is the editor of the guidebook To Asia With Love, dubbed "the ultimate insider's guide to Southeast Asia." The following is an excerpt from "The Kindness of Strangers," an article she wrote (the entire piece can be found on her website: www.kimfay.com) in which she describes being in Luang Prabang, Laos when she first heard the news about the 9-11 terrorist attacks:

"Disoriented, we find our way to a TV in a new café. Surrounded by Australians, New Zealanders and Europeans hunkered down on a rough timber floor, we watch the small fuzzy image of our President as he addresses the nation. It's nearing midnight, and we're exhausted. And then, whispered under the breath: 'What did they expect?'

Not once this night do we hear how terrible or how sad or how tragic. Instead, we learn that somehow we might have deserved this assault, and that our president is a "wanker." I have never felt lonelier in my life than I do now in this room, but although we want to leave, we also need to know what's happening back home.

Finally, around one a.m., CNN cuts out and everyone drifts away. No one expresses a word of sympathy, and we return to the hotel, wounded. We lie in the dark silence of our hotel room, so tired we find it impossible to sleep. Another storm will come and go before the night is over, and when we wake it will be to a world irreversibly changed."

I find it quite ironic that she was in Laos on 9-11. The tiny landlocked country once held the distinction of being the "most bombed country on earth." Courtesy of - you guessed it - the American military during the Vietnam War.

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