The following day we went to see Tuol Sleng (S.21) and the Killing Fields. S.21 was originally a school before the Khmer Rouge (KR) came to power in the late 1960's
. They turned it into their top security institution designed for the interrogation and extermination of anti-Khmer forces. Around 10,500 people were detained here throughout its use, between 1975-1978. The KR used a variety of torture implements and techniques to force confessions- even though most of them were false. S.21 is now a museum and contains many pictures and stories given by the family of the victims. After S.21, we headed for the killing fields; these were the final resting place of over 20,000 people. Adults were shot where they stood and then were pushed into mass graves. Some of the killers were actually children who had been brainwashed and sometimes had to kill their own family or be killed. Young children were swung by the feet against trees until their body was broken. And babies were thrown up in the air and impaled on the soldiers bayonet. A memorial was erected in 1988 in remembrance.
After the more disturbing morning we were hoping to visit the Royal Palace. We knew it was Election Day but our tour guide Bo, told us it should still be open. Unfortunately he was wrong- we walked the entire perimeter of the palace before we spotted a small notice saying it was closed. We decided instead to visit the National Museum next door, which cost $3 admission. Although some of the artifacts were impressive it was nothing special.
Today (Sat 31st) we headed to Cambodia's capital city Phnom Penh (PP), this would be our last destination in this country. It took us 6hrs to get to PP, from Shanoukville. The city felt busier than Bangkok and therefore more polluted. There was a lot of garbage just left on the street and road rules seemed to be non existent. As it was the early afternoon, a few of us went to the Russian market. This was located under a low warehouse style building and was made up of narrow walkways and paths, which had stalls on either side. Apparently up until a few years ago you could buy weapons such as guns and rocket launches there. However, all these items and more can only be bought at the municipal market located elsewhere in PP.