dust bowl

Phnom Penh Travel Blog

 › entry 54 of 56 › view all entries
there's some lovely photos on the walls inside the S-21 rooms that depict what happened under Pol Pot's regime
Phnom Penh holds contradictions like none other. Dust flies everywhere due to a lack of paved roads. If you are on one of the few main roads you may have the privilege of tarmac but dodging the landmine of potholes is next to impossible. Few intersections have lights and stop sign are non-existent. Everyone (motorbikes, cars, trucks, bicycles and pedestrians) converges on one another and somehow make it out the other side with a chaotic ease. Each intersection is a freeforall.
They drive on the right and the ATMs dispense US dollars. You can pay for everything in dollars but sometimes your change will come back in riels (Cambodia's currency...although US dollars is also an official currency). There's a seamless transaction between the two currencies. Like Thailand, the outlets here accomodate US plugs.
each room is left with a single bed and a box for defecating...as well as a tool or two used for torture
It's a little slice of America in southeast asia...a poverty striken America.
The markets prove more frantic than Thailand's. just a 3 minute walk down an aisle brings you from fruit, to stepping over women cooking on the street, to whole chickens and skinned chickens, other feathered creatures, whole fish, fish slaughtered in half (blood still present), fish flopping, and a whole host of other animal bits and pieces on displays. Oh, and insects. If it's eadible the Khmers will eat it.

Phnom Penh offers little in the way of tourist interests, and those that it does hold bring a depressings glimpse on Cambodia's painful history.
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, once a school, was ordered by Pol Pot in 1975 to be set up as a jail (torture facility) and interrogation headquaters for detanees captured by the Khmer Rouge (often compared to Hitler's Nazis.
a look down the hall of one of the buildings at S-21
..but worse). Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge in 1975. Pol Pot ordered Cambodians to evacuate under the guise that American's would be bombing the city. They were told they could return in 3 days. Few were lucky to return at all. Pol Pot abolished the monitary system and created a peasant country, moving most Cambodians out of cities to the countryside. An ethnic cleansing took place: the educated, those of mixed descent, prior government workers were tortured and killed. Forced to work in the fields with little more than a cup of rice a day, many fell ill and died. Systematic executions killed 2 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979. In 1978, Vietnam invaded and overthrew the Khmer Rouge in Phnom Penh. Guerrilla warfare continued into the 80s as the Khmer Rouge was financed by anti-Vietnamese governments such as Thailand, China, and the US.
the wooden cells

Tuol Sleng offers a chilling glimpse into "Democratic Kampuchea." The first building, Building A, is comprised of aged rooms, each containing a bare metal bed. Random paraphenalia left about usually consisted of rotting chains, a metal box or bowl (used as a toilet) and occasionally a decomposing bottle that use to hold kerosine, used for burning prisoners. The windows in this building use to be covered in plastic so as to muffle the screams from inside. Building B now contains hundreds of photos from those captured by the Khmer soldiers. Everyone wears the same all black peasant clothes and women all sport identical ear-length haircuts. Aside from a few misplaced smiles, everyone wears an expresionless face. Building C contains brick and wooden cells. The doors still swing from the wooden cells on the second floor and the walls still have numbers etched on them.
the main highway in PP
The barbed wire blocking the balconies was used as a prevention to suicide. Building D distrubingly enough contains cases of skulls. Some represent those who were shot and bullet holes are clearly visible, entering from all angles. Others show damage done by beatings. Tuol Sleng openned in 1975 with 154 prisoners. It was closed in 1979 with upwards of 5,500. This doesn't include the 20,000 or so children killed by the Khmer Rouge. By 1977, Tuol Sleng averaged 100 killings per day.
Those that weren't killed before or at Tuol Sleng were brought to Choeung Ek to be executed. Known as the "killing fields," Choeung Ek holds 129 mass graves, 9000 skulls, and random bits of clothing still burried in the ground. Between 1975 and 1979, 20,000 people were killed here.
you don't want to know how high these shelves go...there's about 9000 skulls
During the reign of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge, the lives of 3 million Cambodians were claimed.
With the invasion of the Vietnamese in 1978, the Khmer Rouge dispersed throughout the countryside. Although fighting between the Khmer Rouge and the government still continued it was no where as dramatic as their overtaking in 75. It wasn't unti 1998 that the Khmer Rouge was finally deciminated. Today, 30 years later, members of the Khmer Rouge finally stand trial despite a rather ineffectual and corrupt government.


(pictures to come later)
 
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
theres some lovely photos on the …
there's some lovely photos on the…
each room is left with a single be…
each room is left with a single b…
a look down the hall of one of the…
a look down the hall of one of th…
the wooden cells
the wooden cells
the main highway in PP
the main highway in PP
you dont want to know how high th…
you don't want to know how high t…
the memorial at the killing fields…
the memorial at the killing field…
every tree at the killing fields h…
every tree at the killing fields …
the ditches are remnants of mass g…
the ditches are remnants of mass …
eating at a night market
eating at a night market
Phnom Penh
photo by: terminalfunk