We only stayed in Phnom Penh for 2 nights. It was busy and filthy dirty with rubbish scattered everywhere. We had one full day where we paid for a tuck tuck and driver for the day with Harry and Laura.
First we went to the Tuol Sleng museum, which is an old school that was used by the Khmer Rouge to hold and torture the innocent people thought to be conspiring against the ideas of Pol Pott. For those unaware Cambodia had a civil war that didn’t end until 1999. Basically Pol Pott, wanted to create a society where all the people of the country were equal. He didn’t believe in education, the need for doctors, towns and business people. He wanted everyone to work on the farms, growing rice. Although interesting to know he was very well educated as his other top followers were, he had a degree and had studied in France. However he didn’t want this for the people of Cambodia. He is responsible for killing 1 out of every 4 people living n Cambodia at that time including children. He believed that you needed to kill entire families to extinguish what he believed to be the problem (intelligent people). Many of the Cambodian people fighting for him were young adolescents who had joined the Khmer Rouge initially believing they were going to get a better life but then were trapped from leaving once they realised the truth as they would have been killed also. This led to many people having to kill their own families or witness them being killed.
Tuol Sleng was used to keep men, women and children where they were tortured until admitting crimes of conspiracy that they hadn’t committed. When it was discovered after the Vietnamese chased Pol Pott and his leaders into the jungle there were 14 bodies including one woman left there. These 14 are buried in the school. The Cambodians have left the school as close as possible to how they found it so people can see what happened there. When the people were taken there the Khmer Rouge took photos of each person including mothers with babies in their arms so as to keep a record. These photos are displayed in the museum as a remembrance to the 20,000 people who passed through Tuol Sleng, only 7 people left Tuol Sleng alive.
We then went to the “killing field of Choeung Ek” on the outside of the city. Here the prisoners from Tuol Sleng were taken and murdered at night time. This happened 2 or 3 times a month, where trucks full of men, women and children made their last journey. They were kept in a small shed like building and one by one taken to kneel next to mass graves. Since bullets were expensive and in short supply they were killed by beating with farm tools and babies were thrown against a tree, while the Khmer Rouge pumped music loudly into the night sky to disguise the sound of the people’s screams. It’s horrifying to see and very hard to believe. This isn’t just the one field there is hundreds around Cambodia, some still undiscovered as they are too surrounded by landmines. There are still bones and clothes visible on the paths as you walk around the field. The Skulls and major bones of the people murdered here were collected and used for forensics to discover the true horrors that occurred here. Then the skulls, bones and clothes have been placed in a tall, glass tower at the entrance to the killing fields as a memorial to the people murdered.
Like I said it’s hard to believe this actually happened and also how it happened not that long ago. The Cambodian people keep the Tuol Sleng museum and killing fields for public view so people can see the truth but also to try and prevent things like this from occurring else where.
After here Harry wanted to go and shoot a gun so we went with him to the military base, however me being the chicken I am had to hide in the toilets while he was doing it!!!
The next day we came to Sihanoukville on the coast of Cambodia by the hottest bus ever as the air-con was broken!!! We’ve been here for 3 nights now. The first day we all met up with the 2 Sam’s and spent it on the beach where a group of Cambodian children joined us in the sea and got the boys to throw them in the air and they would do summersaults back into the water, there was a big crowd of them around us we looked like we were on a day trip with the local orphanage!! That night we had another “messy” night out, they have bucket drinks here like in Thailand but instead of them being in an actual bucket they are served in the bottom half of a 2 litre water bottle!!! However the next morning I woke up not feeling too well and not just from the hangover. We think I have food poisoning so spent all day yesterday and what looks like all day today in the room. It’s bad but I’ve got 3 different tablets from the pharmacy so hopefully they will kick in soon!!!!