Killing Fields,S-21 Pnohm Pen With Goncalo!

Trip Start Apr 16, 2006
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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Arrived off the 5hour bus ride back to Pnohm Pen again surrounded by moto drivers fighting and grabbing you for a ride.These guys are really pushy its hard to describe what their like,but as you pull into the bus station youve got about 30 blokes running alongside the bus tapping the window then grabbing your arms and even some of them picking up your backpack off the bus and carrying it off to their bikes to make you use them!Decided to head down to the riverside to find a guest house for Gonc arriving tomorrow and after walking for an hour in and out of guest houses charging 10$ a night and followed by 3 blokes on bikes wanting to give me a lift to their guest houses,decided to jump on the back of a bike of a bloke called "boner" who promised me a good one for $3.Got there at the Okay guest house pretty smart with bar,kitchen and dvd room all downstairs full of other backpackers and clean room for $3,nice one!the place ran an "honesty book" where you order your food and get a book for the time during your stay and basically write down what you eat and drink and pay altogether when you check out-pretty trusting especially when you just go help yourself to the fridge full of beers and are expected to write in your book exactly how many you have!
Got up next morning with Ohmm a worker at the g.h in his Cammy to go fetch Goncalo from the airport at 8am,took 40mins just to get through the city and didnt help that the police closed off the main roads to let 3 government cars through with escorts!
Picked up Gonc just as he was hopping onto a motorbike taxi thinking i'd overslept and got back to the g.h,all the time Ohmm trying to sell us anything you could think of in the world,including a lift to the killing fields,s-21 and shooting range!Shooting range i'd heard about but thought it had been closed down but he promised us it was open and you could go out into the sticks and fire Ak-47's,M16's and throw hand grenades and even rocket launchers!Went out soon as we got back hitting the bars dotted down the riverside,beer only $1 a jug and food really cheap but still trying to get head round money as they deal in US dollars but give you change back in Riel,and then have to convert Riel to dollars,then dollars to pounds,and when they ask for 20 or 50cents you have to work out how many Riel to give as they dont have cent coins!?
Walked down to the Pnohm Wat the statue monument where they said was why the capital got its name from a girl called Pnohm,who found a group of monks starving and washed up on the river bank and pulled them up to the hill to take care of them-hence the name Pnohm Pen,which is her name and Pen meaning "hill"

Nearly got run over at the bottom of the mount by an elephant that was just charging round,then walked back decided to go into the Royal Palace.
A huge grand palace overlooking the river and based on the designs of the palace in Bangkok with the "Silver Pagoda"-a hall with a jade buddha, and a 90kg buddha made of solid gold but got its name due to the 5,000 solid silver tiles that cover its floor!Wow.
Gonc had only 2hours sleep so back to g.h for some sleep then back out at night to hit the nightlife of Pnohm Pen!

Made sure nothing valuable on us and went to the Gym Bar to watch the Germany v Argentina match,then onto Sharkys bar to play pool,and then the "heart of darkness!" the nightclub i'd heard about 4 shootings in the last month and got frisked and searched getting in,with signs outside saying "no firearms or explosives please!"Great night talking with a Canadian girl and place really dodgy looking but a good laugh and after walking to another bar had 2girls just sat stroking us!?Realising it was full of prostitutes made a sharp exit and both jumped onto motorbike taxi squashed on back hanging on at 5am back to the g.h through all the dark alleys and backstreets
Next day up late,Boner the bloke who had dropped me at the g.h waiting every day at the front door begging for us to use him to go see the killing fields and s-21 but hungover and late so told him maybe tomorrow,and walked off to find betting shop to get some money on the England Portugal game!Went in a few bars for a beer,all with massive signs outside saying "no guns,explosives,knives or grenades!"
Got lost walking round in the dark and after spending an hour on the back of another moto who didnt have a clue where he was going and with me and Gonc hanging onto the back got back and headed off to the Gym Bar to watch the game.The place was rammed full of English people even though we got there an hour early and bumped into the Scouse woman id chatted to when flying over from Kuala Lumpur.

SAME OLD STORY!!!!!Gonc happy but wouldnt dare wear his Portugal shirt!Back to the club afterwards to drown my sorrows and stopped off at a chinese stall on way back at 6am where I had to watch over his baby daughter while he cooked me my soup!The biggest brown eyes youve ever seen,and with a mobile hanging round her neck she must have been all of 4months old!
Got two moto drivers to take us home and ended up racing each other seeing who could get their driver to go fastest!Mine must have had more to drink than me,spent whole time laughing till he was nearly crying!!
Got up next morning and put Boner out of his misery!An hour on the roughest bumpiest road out into the country with us both on the back of his old bike,got to the shooting range!Wall full of M16,AK-47,Tommy Gun,Shotgun and a menu including Rocket Launcher and Anti Aircraft Gun!!!

Decided to go for a clip each of a M16 and AK47 and share half each!Had to don the army jackets prob just to look the part and ear muffs and went into an old bunker.Single shots at first,then flicked it onto automatic and bang!!!massive kick back and most powerful gun unloading 50bullets in about 10seconds!Then decided to go for the hand grenade!Went over to a pool-bit gutted couldnt throw on land to see the explosion,but after safety demo which was basically,pull this pin but KEEP YOUR FINGERS ON THE LEVER!!!!Hand was shaking like mad prob cos the blokes were about 16!Pulled out the clip,"Fire in the Hole!" overarm lob into pool,BANG!!!!!!!
Massive splash and probably threw 100fish out the water!Loads of Rambo style photos to cap it off then back on the bike and headed off to the Killing Fields.
Had read about the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot on the bus to Pnohm Pen,he had taken power in 1975 and had Marxist ideas and basically sent half the population to the country where he wanted to grow rice and live off the land,and decided to destroy the old culture,destroyed art works,old history and abolished schools and rounded up anyone he thought were conspiritors against his "revolution"
These were anyone wearing glasses(!? as they were thought to be scholars and probably traitors,school teachers,scholars)and sent them to Security 21,a school which had been taken over by his army and used as a torture camp to interrogate the "guilty" where they were tortured then sent to the Choeung Ek(killing fields)
Approx 2million people died-his own people!But were taken to the killing fields,and beaten to death with axes or clubs to spare bullets!
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Got there and now a monument in middle of fields,a large tower with glass front which hoses rows and rows of skulls of some of the people who were killed and found when the mass graves were exumed of 9000 people.
Really sad place as the skulls were arranged by age,some 0-1year old, and many skulls split or smashed from the way they died,and with teeth missing due to the methods of torture used before they got here to be killed.
All or most of the people were innocent,didnt realise why they were being taken to the prison and were basically forced into signing confessions and name people-most people did as had no choice and probably thought it would get them off,or were tortured until they did,and were then killed for admitting these false confessions,and then people they were forced to name were then rounded up and killed.
Fields were full of golf style bunkers which had been the mass graves overgrown by grass,but still had trees where children would be tied to for beatings and execution,and others where speakers would be hung to drown out the noice of the executions and groans of the dying.Still bones scattered around the trees and clothes sprouting up through the earth as you walked around that belonged to the prisoners before they were stripped naked before exectution.
Drove then to S-21,The security prison once a school where the prisoners were taken before execution.

Prisoners were in tiny cells for torture,but all placed in the classrooms where they were shackled by iron locks around their ankles and not allowed to speak for the entire stay unable to move or exercise.The classrooms now full of mug shots taken of all the people brought here,as the guards took a mug shot of every prisoner,and kept diaries of what they did to torture them etc,and was quite haunting walking around the school with thousands of mug shots looking back at you,many children and terrified looking people who all later died.
When the Vietnamese army seiged the prison at the end only 7people walked out alive,and at one point 1000 people were said to have been tortured and killed here a day...
We got back on the taxi both saying nothing as it was quite harsh to see and read all about the stuff that went on,driving back along the front to the g.h in daylight a bike tears up next to us with blacked out helmets and I only notice as feel a hand on my arm and look to realise the man on the back trying to snatch my wallet which was in my hand!Somehow managed to wrestle it back from him as were driving side by side and they tear off ahead!Cant believe it and more surprised I managed to not lose my wallet again!
Decided to have a quiet one as heading off to Siem Reap the next morning at 6am!
CHECK OUT THE NEAR DEATH BIKE RIDE VIDEO IN THE PICTURES SECTION OF THIS ENTRY!
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