Potty Pol Pot
Trip Start Oct 29, 2003
117Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
There are a few things that spring to mind when I think about the classic (English) children's TV show Blue Peter: sticky-backed plastic, Percy Thrower's Vandalized Sunken Garden, and playground legend Joey Deacon. But it was the Blue Peter Bring and Buy Sale charity drive that first informed me about the troubles of Cambodia (in the days before eBay a Bring and Buy Sale was just a jumble sale, where one kid's crap is another kid's crap but they bought it anyway, with the money going to charity).
Basically, between 1975 and 1979 Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime and it's leader Pol Pot killed 3 million people, destroying all possessions and forcing everone to work in the fields. 1975 was officially renamed Year Zero. All intellectuals, journalists, students, doctors and lawyers - basically anyone capable of self-thought - were tortured and executed
In 1975 a high school in central Phnom Penh was turned into the notorious S-21 security prison. In only 3 years 17,000 people were subjected to horrific torture, with only 7 surviving. Now called the Tuol Sleng (Poisonous Hill) Genocide Museum, it shows in graphic detail the horrors that occurred there. Beds, cells, intruments of torture, bloodstains and mugshots of prisoners are on display - including pictures of young children. It was really quite disturbing seeing all this and hearing from the guide some of stories of the prisoners.
Continuing my fun day, the next stop was the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek just outside the city, and just one of hundreds around the country. This is where those 17,000 souls of S-21 were eventually killed and buried in mass graves. Nearly 9,000 bodies have been exhumed and 8,000 skulls are on display in a gruesome memorial tower. Clothing and bones protruding from the ground are still visible.
Not a pleasant day at all, but one which needs to be experienced in order to learn about what this country and it's people have gone through. I wish I had gone to that Bring and Buy Sale now.
I had a much more enjoyable evening. A friend of mine in DC has a friend who works for the US Embassy here. We met in the swankiest hotel in town (I could stay in my hotel for 60 days for the price of one night at Le Royale) for a couple of martinis then headed to a local seafood restaurant for some crab. Yum. Thanks Jennifer and Kim!
Saturday November 22nd
Hanging out and relaxing before the Rugby World Cup Final against the Aussies. We have to win as they like nothing better than to stick it to the Motherland. The enjoyment of my trip there next month depends largely on the outcome!
Off on another 5 hour boat trip tomorrow up to Siem Reap and the amazing temples of Angkor Wat. Now that should be something special.