Sad Day.

Phnom Penh Travel Blog

 › entry 33 of 105 › view all entries
I got up at 6.00am, my bus was supposed to leave to Phnom Penh at 6.30am but a mistake was made and in actuality the earliest was 9.00am. But i was up so I took the moto into town, thinking to find a shared taxi. I found one instantly, a man ran up to me shouting "Phnom Penh", i said yes. He grabbed my bag, put it into the back of a Toyota and showed me into the car. I asked how much, he said $3. Wicked I thought, save myself $2 and i'll get there in half the time. When they say "shared taxi" i didn't realise they shared it so much. A car with four seats fitted 8 people. I waited in the car as he ran around like a looney trying to collect other passengers. There was competition from other taxis. As a potential customer turned up, he would run along side the moto shouting, trying to secure the sale before another. One of the tactics was that he just grabbed the persons bag as their moto was still moving and take it to his taxi so the person has to come to his taxi no matter what as he just nicked their stuff. Weird and cheeky but it worked. After stuffing as many people as life threatening possible, we were off. I was squashed in the front passenger seat with a lady, i had one buttock on the seat with my back leaning oddly against the side of the chair. The rain began to pour and the windwipers hardly worked. He sped at maximum, blasting past motos, bicycles, cars, trucks, buses and what have you. Facing incoming death on the wrong side of the road and hitting blind corners with little vision and Cambodian tunes blaring out of the sound system. We past trucks loaded with locals, standing in the roofless back holding a large plastic sheet that flapped overhead in the wind giving them little protection from the thundering rain. He didn't stop when the police requested him too. He just carried on. The last 20km, i had a whole seat free and it was magic. The relief was huge and i fell asleep as we arrived in the city. Not a pretty city, and insanely busy. Tuttuk to guesthouse.$3, for double room. No single avaiable. Cheaper to travel with another person when it comes to accomodation. It is a guesthouse sitting on a lake which is kinda cool. I take the moto, the driver trying to get me pay double as he "not have lot money, not much job now" but i ain't budging because you can't be generous with everyone. To the S-21 prison which requires a $2 admisson fee. The sun was shining and it was hot. This weather didn't suit the place. Rain and dark clouds seemed more appropriate. It used to be a school but was turned into a prison with torture chambers and cells. The prisoners were given orders, one was not to make a sound as you were tortured and if you did this would only receive more punishment. As i entered each building i became more and more sad. Building C contained thousands of pictures of women, men, children and babies who passed through the prison before being tortured and executed. The pictures from the past staring at you was too much and for the first time in my travels tears were brought to my eyes which i supressed to stop them flooding. It was so sad and horrific. I caught snippits of talk from guides who mentioned that they would murder the babies and young children in addition to their parents just to ensure that they caused no problem in the future (as they may seek revenge). The deaths still give immense griefs to the family members of the people murdered as none of them were given proper burials, instead being thrown into mass graves and in Cambodia they believe that unless this happens they will not pass on into the afterlife and still roam the earth as Ghosts. The combination of the clammering heat, my tired and dehydrated body and the sheer horror and sadness of the place made me want to get out of there. I left and jumped on a tuktuk (down from $12 to $7 - you know when you got them when they ask "okay okay how much you want to pay") to the Killing Fields which while still being horrific, was easier to handle. People used to be transported from the prison to this area where they were immediately killed and thrown into the mass graves. Whole families were brought and the thought of the children being torn from the parents and killed before the parents followed is horrific. Imagine being in that situation with your family. Your mum, dad or children being taken ripped away from you, crying and screaming. You know they are to be killed and you hear them being tortured and then brutally murdered and shoved into a huge grave. You are never to see them again. And you are to follow. I past a tree where they used to swing babies and bash their heads against the trunk. And a grave where they found hundreds of headless bodies. A memorial of great height contains level upon level of victims skulls. It truely is horrific. The fact that an estimated million-three million people were murdered or died of starvation/illness during this short period is just mental. I left feeling very weird. As this is a big city which sees many tourists, unfortunately children approach me and ask for money. Although they are still friendly when i refuse. I don't like it though. It is strange that many women here walk around in silk pyjamas during the day. On the way back, I past a large mall and stadium. I was not feeling the City that much but the area which i was staying in was nice with good restaurants and guesthouses. Although I am constantly offered "white powder" (which i suppose could be sherbet or something but i doubt it), opium, crystal meth, weed and pills. I went out for dinner at an Indian restaurant where I got an all you can eat/drink meal for $2 - so i took advantage and filled myself up while the heavens opened and lightning flashed constantly across the night sky, sending thunder cracks ringing through the streets.
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Phnom Penh
photo by: terminalfunk