First stop South America (then NZ, Oz & South East Asia) travel blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Phnom Penh is a large city with huge palatial buildings and temples, expensive hotels and restaurants and expensive cars on the well paved roads. It doesn't feel like a poor country. Phnom Penh is where Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge party began their 4 year reign of terror. There are some good (if a bit harrowing) places to visit to better understand this dark phase of Cambodian history. I visited the Tuol Sleung museum. This place was a school until it was converted into a prison and torture centre between 1975 to 1979 under the orders of Pol Pot. It was known as S21. Citizens who were believed to be an enemy of the regime were brought here and tortured for months until they were eventually killed. Something as spurious as wearing glasses or speaking a foreign language rendered you an enemy in the eyes of the regime. And the Khmer Rouge's policy was to 'dispose of' the children of these supposed 'enemies' too to prevent revenge attacks later. Approximately 20 thousand men, women and children are estimated to have been brought here and of this figure only 7 survived the experience. The horrors that went on here are unimaginable. And it was in my lifetime too. I also visited the 'Killing Fields of Choeung Ek' which is very close to Phnom Penh. It is the site of 129 mass graves of people murdered by Pol Pot's regime. This is where the inmates of S21 were brought to be executed. The bodies of approximately 20 thousand people have been found here, many of whom were hacked to death and often ended up being buried alive in the interest of saving bullets. There is a monument at the site that contains thousands of skulls of those that were executed here. If you look down whilst walking you can see bone fragments and bits of clothing that are still being brought to the surface each day when it rains. This place and S21 are not enjoyable places to visit at all but i'm really glad that I visited them both.



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