Phnom Penh - Killing Fields, Genocide Museum

Trip Start Jan 23, 2013
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Trip End Jul 23, 2013


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Flag of Cambodia  , Phnom Penh,
Thursday, February 28, 2013

I had woken up a couple of times during the night as had some sharp stomach pains; I had hardly slept the night before either, so felt completely shattered. I decided to try and starve myself of anything spicy for the next 24 hrs. and took an Imodium tablet to settle my stomach. I wondered whether it might have been the Bubble Milk Tea that had made me ill; the more I thought about it the worse I felt.

Never-the-less, it was our last day in Phnom Penh and we needed to make the most of it. We had been speaking to a couple of American guys at breakfast the previous morning, who had told us that we should visit the Genocide Museum as well as the Killing Fields, so we decided to hire a Taxi to take us to both. We had been approached several times over the last couple of days by Tuk Tuk drivers who offered a cheaper price, but Terry didn't relish the excitement of travelling for an hour in an open Tuk Tuk along dusty roads.

We set out about 10:30 in the Toyota Camry Taxi. The journey was long and the roads extremely dusty. All along the roadside people had set up little stalls selling drinks, cigarettes and fruit, but everything was covered in dust. All the stationary cars had a thick film of dust on them and where there were shop windows you could hardly see through them. All along the route you could see lines of clothes hanging out to dry that were probably filthier than when they went in the wash.

The Americans had said that we should visit the Genocide Museum first, but the Taxi took us to the Killing Fields. We walked around the fields with headsets, that explained clearly at each point what atrocities the poor people who were taken there had suffered at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. We heard stories from a couple of survivors and also excerpts from the trials of Khmer Rouge Generals who had been bought to court to face charges of genocide. At the centre of the killing field is a huge memorial containing hundreds of skulls and bones of people that have either been excavated or have just surfaced after rain. As you walk round the field, you can see pieces of clothes that belonged to the victims, twisted in the mud under tree roots, or just under the mud. This was just one of over 300 fields where an estimated 1.7 million people were either tortured and/or perished. It's difficult to imagine that anything like that could have happened as recent as the 70's

We met our Taxi guy outside and he took us on to the Genocide Museum or S-21. This was where the Khmer Rouge Generals tortured people for information. Once again the surroundings were shocking and photographs of many of the victims were on display. At the end of the tour, we met one of the survivors; he showed us the scars he bore from the torture he had suffered. The only reason he had been kept alive, was because he could mend the typewriters the Khmer Rouge used to file reports. He is in his 80's now but all alone as his entire family were killed.

We returned to the Hotel feeling slightly shell shocked and took time out for a couple of hours. My stomach was feeling better but I didn't want to risk upsetting it so just drank water most of the day.

In the evening we decided to revisit The Titanic restaurant. Terry chose Water Buffalo from the menu but I played safe with Chicken and steamed rice. We had our Spring Rolls for starters, and then Terry's main came out. He had finished his, but mine still hadn't made an appearance. When the waiter came to collect his plate he asked whether we would like a dessert. I told him I hadn't had my main yet, he looked at me a bit quizzical and scurried away. I could see him and another waiter frantically looking through the little note pad of orders, but it would seem it was lost. He returned to me and took my order again; by this time I was starving. When the meal did arrive, it had fries with it instead of rice, so all I ate was the Chicken.

We finished up our drinks and watched over the comings and goings on the river, it was very relaxing. All of a sudden the waiter turned up with two fancy desserts; a banana split and something else. We said we hadn't ordered them; once again he looked at us with complete disbelief. He walked away with them looking clueless, when a couple on the table behind us stopped him; it was their order.
When the bill came, needless to say, it had the two desserts on it. Terry pointed out the mistake and also asked for a deduction on my meal as I had asked for rice, not fries. We did get 10 percent off, but what a shame after the positive experience the night before.

We returned to the Hotel to pack our stuff away. My stomach ache had completely passed but Terry didn't feel well at all and had to make a sudden dash to the loo - he only just made it. It wasn't long after that that he too started condemning the Bubble Tea. :-).
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Comments

Andrew on

Hi guys,
Yeah, both those sites probably the most emotionally stressful of my entire trip too. The bones and clothes poking out of the mud.......well, what can you say. Terrible that they converted a school to be their torture HQ as well.
Ankor Wat next though, one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Make sure you do sunrise at the main temple. It's a really early morning but well worth it. Soul cleansing experience!

Miss you guys but bringing back so many memories it feels like I'm there with you.

Take care
Andrew

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