Phnom Penh Travel Blog› entry 54 of 56 › view all entries
November 20th, 2009 – by: fromtheblock
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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