When in Cambodia a visit to The Killing fields and Tuol Sleng prison is a must to get a proper understanding of this country’s history, and what these people have endured in the past. The Khmer Rouge massacred and killed 3 million people, all for the sake of purifying the nation and bringing back the country to the stone age, to rebuild from scratch. Cambodia had already felt the destructiveness of war, because of the bombs from the US during the Vietnam War, landed in Cambodia. To this day there are still areas where you cannot step foot due to land mines. The Khmer Rouge destroyed so much of this country, and ever since it’s slowly rebuilding itself. Cambodia feels like a never ending industrial project, but when you start reading up on why, you fully understand why the country can feel a bit dirty and poor at times. The history of what these people have endured is very long and I won’t elaborate too much, I will add this link for you to read if you’d like. Which I truly recommend you do, so when the day comes and it’s your turn to experience this country, you know the backstory. I’ll add a link here
for those interested in learning more.
A day trip tour with tuktuk cost 25dollar, and I managed to split the cost with Drew, a 31 year old project manager, who were staying in the same dorm room as me. The hostel I stayed at in Phnom Penh, Lovely jubbly Villa, arranged everything with the tuktuk driver, which were great. We didn’t need to worry about being abandoned at one of the stops, because the driver worked for the hotel. First stop were the Killing fields, Choeng Ek. Choeng Ek used to be a Chinese graveyard, until the Khmer Rouge turned it in to a mass graveyard. We left the hotel at 7am, the trip to the Killing fields took 45 minutes, so we had 15 minutes to spare before we could get the audio guided tour. It was really interesting to hear the stories, and history of everything that took place here. Also heartbreaking to listen to, one of the stories were about a woman, she got killed by one of the guards because he thought she stole two bananas.
After the killings field, Tuol Sleng prison was up next. Also known as S21 where prisoners were brought, and tortured into a false confession. While you walk around you can still see blood on the walls, on the floors. The horrific events that took place here is beyond words. You are not allowed to take any pictures here, some people do, but out of respect you should not. This is a memorial site, so just put the camera down and listen to the stories. The only pictures I took was of the gathering of the monks who come here to pray. I didn’t know that this event took place the same day, so that was a wonderful thing to experience. Hundreds of monks chanting around the monument in the middle. Absolutely beautiful.
Bou Meng, one of the remaining survivors of S21 prison were here to great everyone that came this day. I bought the book with his story, and he was kind enough to sign it. When I get to Koh Rong Samroen I’m gonna hit the beach, and catch up on all my reading including the story of Bou Meng. There isn’t any wifi so I’ll be offline for a couple of days, and do some true R&R on the beach.
After the prison we headed over to the last stops of our day tour, Wat Phnom and the Royal Palace. We were exhausted after the full day, so we dropped the Russian market and the central market, headed back to the hostel and jumped in the pool to cool off from the days heat.
When you walk around in Cambodia, you hear all the stories and you learn about the history, it really puts everything in perspective. My first world problems don’t seem so bad anymore. Having to rebuild an entire nation after a genocide, due to one mans mad beliefs, that is a real problem. In 10 years this country will be amazing, and I can’t wait to come back and see how much it has changed.