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kimandhannah’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 06 Dec 2007

Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia

MapHey guys,

So, here we are again; new day, new town. We're getting a bit tired of travelling (it takes alot out of you!) so we decided we'd take some time out. We've just gotten back from a 6 day stint in the beach town of Sihanoukville, which is the longest we've stayed in the one place, and which was well deserved! Anyway, back on the road now again. We're here for just one day to see the Temples of Angkor (Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones, Two Brothers; all filmed here) which are the largest Buddist temples in the world. Really excited about it. Was a main highlight on the trip, and after such a relaxing time in Sihanoukville, we'll all in the perfect frame of mind for some Buddisim!

I guess you want to hear about the has been rather than the will be though...

Cambodia is beautiful. A really beautiful country with really beautiful people. Especially considering what they've gone through in our life time, our generation... For those of you who don't know, just over 30 years ago, in the 1970's Cambodians were subject to the vicious rule of the Khmer Rouge. Anyone who had an education, anyone who wore glasses, anyone who was in any way different, was taken away from their families and either brutally killed in the mass graves of the Killing Fields or locked up for torture and interogation in S21 prison, where they would more than likely die anyway.

Both the Killing Fields and the S21 Prison (now Teoul Sung Genocide Museum) are open to the public and let me tell you, it is heart wrenching... As you enter The Killing Fields, the first thing you see is a square tower, about 20 meters high, and maybe 5 meters wide and deep. Its made of glass. Row after row after row of shelving, all the way from the ground to the top. On each shelf, the skulls of the victims brutally tortured and murdered here. Old, young, male, female... The Khmer Rouge didn't distinguish. The fields themselves are just a widespread collection of deep holes (most of which resemble a bomb site) where the mass graves, holding the bodies of over 8000 people, were discovered. Following a sobering morning wandering around the fields, you then get a tuk tuk back into the city (all around Phnom Phen) to visit Teoul Sung. There are no words I can use to describe this place. You are left on your own; no guide, no audio headset, just a sign every so often explaining the building you are in, or what the different ''equipment'' was used for. Cell after cell, you can still see the blood stains on the ground. The chains that were once around a prisoners ankle, still concreted into the ground. Barbed wire, surrounding a building to prevent prisoners from committing suicide still wraps the walls with the rust stains looking ominously red on the white wall. Most distressing, the pictures... Although brutal, the Khmer Rouge were meticulous with their records; every single prisioner (and torture method) was photographed and documented. And so, the faces of thousands stare at you from the walls. Men and women as old as 78... Children as young as 2... All locked away... All died horrible deaths... Because they were different...

The most chilling side of the 2 and a half years of Khmer Rouge genocide... That alot of the work of the Khmer Rouge was done by children, no older than 17.


I couldn't bring myself to take pictures of this place... Just the signs that tell the story...