Phnom Phen

Trip Start Jan 06, 2007
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46
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Trip End Jul 29, 2007


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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Friday, May 18, 2007

Phnom Penh was another huge lesson in the true horrors that human nature can lead us to.  We initially planned to see S-21 (a prison in which inmates were tortured nigh-un to death before being taken to the Killing Fields) on our first day and the Killing Fields the second as we knew that it would be a difficult day if we did it all in one.  As It turned out we had to do just this, our first stop was the Killing Fields.  This place was very surreal and brought about mixed emotions due to the knowledge about the number of people murdered here and the fact that it is now a peaceful place.  We walked around looking at various pits that had been excavated to remove the corpses.  So far here, they have only excavated 86 out of 129 mass graves.  While walking around you couldn't help but notice the bits of cloth coming out of the ground and it wasn't until towards the end of our walk that we realized these were the remains of the victims clothing.  Seeing the cloth and remnants of bone was as effective as a punch to the head, making us realize the scale of events and numbers murdered here just under 30 years ago!  Before leaving we paid our respects at the Blinding White Stupa that is filled with many skulls of people who were murdered here.  This is a memorial to the 20, 000 men women and children who were killed senselessly here during the reign of the Khmer Rouge.  After this heavy introduction to the day we headed to the Russian market for a brief interlude before getting to S-21.  This place made us both realize how lucky we were to grow up in our respective countries.  S-21 itself was a school before the Khmer Rouge took over.  Then it became a horrifying prison where only 7 out of the 20,000 people that went here survived.  The prison itself was set up to interrogate supposed enemies of the party.  Basically some of the biggest human rights violations that can be imagined occurred right here.  People were tortured for weeks, if not months, until they gave false confessions and were sent to the Killing Fields soon after their confessions.  Many people did not survive to make it to the Killing Fields due to the brutal and primitive torture techniques used.  Both of us had tears in our eyes at certain points while trying to understand why and how such a place could exist, while looking at some of the most disturbing photographs we have ever seen.  Hopefully this history lesson wont be forgotten.  Our next day in Phnom Penh wasn't nearly as heavy.  We got our flights to Sri Lanka sorted out, checked out the central market and paid a visit to the royal palace.  It was a nice way to finish our time here in the capitol city of Cambodia.  Next stop is Siem Reap!
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