Americans Abroad: Frangipani & Bafflegab

Calm and seemingly cool in 90° heat, the young woman walked down the red carpet at Pnompenh's Pochentong Airport, escorted by Cambodia's Prince Norodom Sihanouk, all smiles and a torrent of French. An exotically garbed palace guard held a giant green parasol over their heads to screen them from the afternoon sun, and 200 schoolgirls in bright green sampots, the traditional skirts, sprinkled her path with fragrant rose and jasmine petals, which they carried in silver bowls—the Buddhist way, explained Sihanouk, of honoring very special guests.

At the end of the carpet,...

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