Laos, our next stop, provided the most moving experience. We visited a place called COPE, Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise. It provides artificial arms and legs to people most of whom have been injured from unexploded bombs dropped by the US during the Vietnam War.
The US dropped cluster bombs, a big bomb that carries a lot of little apple-sized bomb lets. Many of those bomb lets never exploded. Laotians are still finding them, picking them up, and loosing arms, legs and eyes when they explode.
Mrs. Clinton was moved. She couldn't understand why we haven't developed better equipment to detect and destroy these bombs. She met a 20-year-old man who lost his sight and both forearms when his friend found one of these cluster bombs and, not knowing what it was, handed it to him. The young man, in broken English, told the Secretary how glad he was to meet her. He made an impression on all of us.
We don't spend a night in Laos, instead heading off to Cambodia where we have to nights at the Raffles Hotel in Phnom Penh. It's a beautiful hotel with a nice pool which, of course, I never get to use. But since we're there two nights it's an opportunity for laundry.
It has been hot every place we have ventured, sometime over 100 degrees. And since these are diplomatic meetings I wear a suit and tie instead of casual clothes. It's hot, sweaty and unpleasant, especially when you're lugging 45 pounds of equipment. You try to change clothes when you can, go through a lot of laundry, and then try to explain to your expense account bosses why you spent so much money on laundry.
Phnom Penh was not what I expected. It was much more modern. They held the South East Asian Nations conference at this large new marble building called the Peace Palace. We have nothing so grand in the United States.
A day and a half of meetings goes off as planned. Mrs. Clinton is cold from the air conditioning and wears a shawl through some of the meetings.
I'm looking forward to our next stop. Siem Reap, not because of the meetings and speeches Mrs. Clinton has there, but because we might have an opportunity to visit the temple at Angkor Wat, one of the world's major tourist sites.
We arrive in Siem Reap in the early afternoon and go through a full schedule of meetings that ends with a dinner speech. She eats delicious Cambodian and other Asian specialties. They brought in pizza for the press. That's right, we are in Siem Reap, Cambodia, eating pizza for dinner.
Mrs. Clinton already has visited Angkor Wat so she's not going on the tour. The rest of us have to get up at 3:30 a.m. in time to get over there for sunrise, and to get back before Mrs. Clinton begins her official day. So if I go right to bed I can get six hours sleep. But no. Mrs. Clinton decides this is the evening she wants to have cocktails with the traveling press.
You don't want to miss a cocktail party with Mrs. Clinton. I'm old enough to remember when people would say they would rather attend a foreign policy speech by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger than do pretty much anything else. I couldn't understand why.