To the capital to stay this time!

Trip Start Jan 12, 2008
Trip End Mar 19, 2009

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Tuesday, January 6, 2009

After swapping buses on the two previous occasions in Phnom Penh it was nice to get out of the bus station this time and see a bit of the place.
After escaping the now routine pack of moto drivers we opted to walk to the riverside and search for a hotel. The main trouble we had was everything was either double the price then everywhere else in Cambodia or a complete dive. After a lengthy search and opted for a place we at least got some value for money at and (with the New Year detox forgotten) headed out for a well deserved beer.
The next day we headed out to the Tuol Sleng Genocide museum. This is the site where a former high school was turned into Security prison 21 (S-21) by the Khmer Rouge. The museum shows the torture and other abuses of the prisoners. Most of the prisoners were eventually taken to the outskirts of the city to be executed in the 'Killing fields'.
The first building block you see is the where the torturing had taken place. Just a metal bed frame and a black and white photo of a tortured dead body lay in each room. It really brings home the horror of the place.
The next block houses rooms filled with peoples photos who where brought to S-21 and later killed. Seeing all their pictures was sickening especially the women and children. The sheer madness really hits home when you hear that the prison guards were often replaced and the former guards executed by the new ones.
Upstairs you hear more about the regime and the atrocities committed. It really does seem madness that the Khmer Rouge wanted everyone to return to the earth and replaced people from the cities and towns to the fields by to torture and kill anyone they thought would not embrace their ideals is just shocking.
The next block showed the small cells bricked up in the former school halls. It really must have been hell.
The next morning we visited the actual 'killing fields'. Visiting the S-21 museum before really gave you an insight to what this place means. The first thing you see is a memorial stupa filled with the skulls of some of the millions of victims found at the site. Like at Auschwitz camp much of the buildings and sites have been destroyed. Signs point out the sites of the different areas. Some of the most shocking facts are that most of the victims were beaten to death rather then shot to save bullets and that acid was poured the bodies to both reduce the smell but also to kill anyone left alive.
We than enter the part where the mass graves are located. It truly was a very sad place and the thought of so many lives lost here is harrowing. Victims were made to dig their own graves and this is shown by the very shallow graves dig by the weak. Unfortunately it's another site on our trip that shows how inhuman humans can be.
Coming back that afternoon to the city we headed north to check out the more backpacker area by the lakeside. It was a more chilled out area but to be honest it wasn't the nicest of areas but we continued on the LP's walking tour. Have to admit not the most scenic walking tour we've had but it was nice to see a bit more of the city.
Our final day we took in the royal palace. It was nice but we would be lying if we said it was worth the visit (or indeed the entrance fee!!!). Still it had some good aspects...I guess.
The next day we are leaving Cambodia so time for one last Angkor Beer which has served is so well.
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