The dark days of Phnom Penh. The rise of Pol Pot during the mid-70s left an everlasting mark on Cambodia. When Pol Pot came to power his security forces took over Svay Prey High School and it became the notorious Security Prison 21 (S-21). Classrooms were turned into torture and death chambers. S-21 was the largest incarceration center in the country. Using the Nazi play book the Khmer Rouge leaders meticulously kept records of their prisoners and the barbarian treatment they inflicted. Each prisoner was photographed and these photographs are still displayed in the converted classrooms. When the Vietnamese army liberated the prison only 7 prisoners were left. One of the remaining survivors wrote a book about his experience and will autograph a copy for $10.
Since we were not depressed enough we decided to visit the killing fields of Choeung Ek. Most of the 17,000detainees held at S-21 prison were executed at this site. Prisoners were often bludgeoned to death to avoid wasting precious bullets. It was a former orchard but a memorial stupa displaying the skulls of 8,000 victims highlights the reality of what went on at this site.