A Travellerspoint blog

Phnom Penh

sunny 31 °C

A rather brief visit to Cambodia's capital was the next stop. With one full day here I chose to find out about the country's more recent history and visited sites where in the mid-70s the Khmer Rouge committed some of their most horrendous atrocities.

The first location was the Killing Fields, a place where many Cambodians were taken to be executed and buried. There wasn't a great deal to see here but the audio tour was superb and just being in the place where it happened helped to put into context the history I was learning. Standing on the same ground you can't help but picture the events that took place. I really recommend a quick Wikipedia read if you're not familiar with the place or period of history.

I never feel comfortable taking photos in such a place, just my personal preference, and would rather the events be told by someone more knowledgeable than me so further reading and research might be needed for this blog entry.

Later in the morning I visited S21, a group of school buildings near the centre of Phnom Penh that was converted into a jail, interrogation, torture and murder camp. Many bare classrooms/prison cells contain the original bed along with a photo taken by the liberation army of the body they found in that room, on that bed. Other rooms exhibit the countless photos of detainees - staring out at the audience - taken by the Khmer Rouge in their efforts to record all the people who came there and later perished at their hands. Original torture devices are on display in some of the rooms along with drawings of how they were used.

The remainder of my day was spent walking along the riverside promenade, a long strip of attractive paving dotted with trees, and a healthy amount of people watching. On a nightly basis the promenade is full of local people partaking in sports or exercise or simply socialising. It's a wonder to think after the last few decades of horror how the Cambodian people could be as warm, happy and friendly as I found them.

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Posted by oli.heeley 21:17 Archived in Cambodia

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