Cell phones and internet shops are multiplying like bunnies. And, surprising to me, were satellite dishes everywhere in democracies and dictatorships alike. I learned that you can run a black and white television on a car battery and a color tv on a gas-powered generator. Against the backdrop of so much political, social and religious turmoil in the world, it's a powerful contrast to see that the basic human desire for connection supercedes what we would see as the more basic need of plumbing.
During the trip, I had an extended stay in Siem Reap to see the Khmer temples (Angkor Wat and many others). At first, I was overwhelmed by the obvious intellectual superiority of its day; the temples represent mastery of advanced mathematics, architecture, and engineering. They are heavily decorated in beautiful, intricate sculptures and carvings. They were created at a time when Europe was in the Dark Ages. Over several days my unconscious began to piece together that all the fabulous ruins I'd seen (Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, etc.) represented a single culture that held the keys to knowledge -- both scientific and artistic -- during its supremacy. I'm left wondering what impact the ascendancy of the internet, when most knowledge is immediately shared, will have on this phenomenon.