A day of mixed emotions
Trip Start Oct 04, 2011
50Trip End Nov 29, 2011
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Cyclo tour round Phnom Penh this morning. Started off from the hotel in three cyclos - one each for David and I and one for the guide - first thing was to cross a busy road (6 lanes of traffic) - the cyclo driver just pulls out in front of any traffic and hopes they will stop for him - which is fine for him as his passenger in front will take the brunt of any crash! After about 10 minutes David’s cyclo got a flat tyre so reinforcements had to be sent for (after first pumping it up to see if it would last). The city is very beautiful with a lot of open spaces and some beautiful Khymer style buildings with several layers of roofs and a lot of French colonial buildings ( which are all decaying in a lovely way)
After lunch we went to S-21 Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields - it was both very moving and horrendous. Tuol Sleng (S-1) was a school which was taken over for the imprisonment of Pol Pot's “enemies” . They were tortured here to confess to being members of the CIA for example and then taken to the Killing Field to be killed. Once one member of the family was found guilty then the whole family was killed include the small children. The museum had photos of all the inmates and the look of despair in their eyes was terrible. The small cells which they were held in are still there today along with the blood stains on the floor. Most of the guards were only young boys themselves who probably didn’t have any choice about what they did. I was in tears by the time we had looked round as were a lot of the other women tourists. Only seven people came out of there alive - two are still living and were there to talk to tourists (and sell the book of their story).
The Killing Fields themselves were equally horrendous as the ground still has pieces of material and bones from the prisoners who were taken there to be killed and buried in mass graves. The memorial there was particularly moving - it contains the skulls of those exhumed - in total 20,000 people were killed here and there were similar sites around the country - most peoples only crimes were to be intellectuals or have had contact with Americans.
Feeling very down this evening - hopefully a good nights sleep will help us get over this.