The Killing Fields & Toul Sleng

Trip Start Feb 28, 2010
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Trip End May 22, 2010


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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Last night I ran into some of the other travellers from the boat and we enjoyed a couple of happy hour cocktails at the Foreign Correspondants Club.

After that, we were feeling adventurous (the alchohol had nothing to do with it), so we made our way to a local cafe and we ordered a couple of "different" dishes, including Eel with Ants and Bird. Yep, it was no chicken, it was a large bird (probably one of the black ones we see flying around). The Eel and Ant was quite delicious as you couldn't taste the ants and it was better not to look at the food before transferring from plate to mouth!

So, today I hired a Remork driver (motorbike with 4 person carrier on a single axle attached), to go out to the Choeug Ek Genocidal Centre (The Killing Field) to pay respect to the 9,000 people who were tortured at the hands of Pol Pot's regime.

Pol Pot became the leader of Cambodia in mid 1975 and set about establishing a new civilisation by forcing city dwellers to leave their homes and live in remote countryside locations in forced slavery. He closed banks so there was no monetary system, he closed all schools and universities so there were no educated people and closed all buddist monestaries so there was no religion. He then set about killing all scholars, doctors, train engineers and teachers so that his new civilation could start.

The Killing Field is a moving tribute to the dead and over 86 mass graves have been excavated with some of them still containing various bones that are sitting on the surface......pretty awful. A Stupor (a buddist building honoring the dead) has been built and houses all the skulls, bones and clothes of the people who were exumed after the fall of Pol Pots government in 1979.

After this I then went to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in the city. This is the former detention, interrogation and torture centre and was previously a high school......so the classrooms have all been converted to various forms of torture and holding cells. Again, this was a moving display and I walked out feeling rather overwhelmed as it only ended 31 years ago and when I look into the faces of the older people here in Phnom Penh, I wonder to myself, what exactly have they have seen in their lifetime?

There is such a contrast of economy here. On the way out to the Killing Fields we went through some very poor parts of the city and the smell of rubbish was so overwhelming. Then you come back and pass some palatial homes with big gates and fences and witness all the luxury 4WD and european cars on the road.......amazing stuff. Apparently some of the high ranking political officials have to walk around with body guards and you are NEVER allowed to approach them in the street or take photo's of them. Also, last night, some police rounded up a group of homeless kids and dished out money to them (20c each)......WOW, don't break the bank guys!

So - on a brighter note.....I have been looking into how the heck I'm going to get up to Laos (Vientiane) and guess what....the Cambodian government has cleverly blocked the Vietnam website from most Internet Service Providers (as they are the only airline who fly from Phnom Penh to Vientiane) and it forces to you go into a travel agency. So after 1 hour of research on how I can get around this.....with no luck, I had to book a AUD$200 fare.....Bugger. I will leave Cambodia on the 14th of April, so this gives me 17 days to explore.

Ash
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Comments

Michelle Maguire on

Like I have said before "Our own Bear Griles" You go girl!

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