An experience - not for the faint hearted

Sunday, March 08, 2015
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Early start so as to catch the flight to Phnom Penh. When we got here of course the hotel rooms weren't ready, so we went straight to Choeung E, the Killing Fields. This is where the inhabitants of S21(the best known detention & interrogation centre run by the Pol Pot regime) were taken to be killed. 86 of the 124 burial pits were excavated and the main memorial contains the bones of almost 9000 bodies on display. Many open pits from which the remains were excavated, and apparently in the rainy season, more bones come to the surface.
From there we went to the actual S21 . It used to be a school before the Khymer Rouge took over and forced everyone to abandon the city, the used the old school for a different purpose. Chilling. The 2 men who still survive (I think 9 actually survived out of between 13000 and 20000 who went through the centre) were sitting there, and we bought a book from each, detailing their experiences. Well I assume that's what the books are. The one survived because He was a Mechanic and fixed their typewriter, the other because he was an artist and did portraits of the KR leaders.
I know some people don't agree with "misery tourism" and to an extent I agree, but on the other hand we have to learn from experience, and respect those who suffered. If I've offended anyone with this account, then sorry, don't go to the photos. Nor should anyone who is upset by what I said. But that's all I'm going to say.
Checked in to the hotel, dinner to come. It'll be our last dinner as a group.

Set off to walk the mile to the river and the restaurant where we were all meeting . On the way Jem pointed out the lovely sunset at the end of the road, silhouetting the tuk tuks. So I whipped out my camera to take a photo. "STOP" So I turned around to see a uniform rushing up. He said I couldn't take the photo. I asked what was wrong with taking a photo of the setting sun. Eventually he allowed me to take it, as long as he could see it. So I did and he spent ages zooming in and out, looking in all the corners. Turns out I'd managed to include a 2 inch square bollard outside the US embassy. Not the 10 foot fence topped with razor wire, just a little thing I could kick over in my sandals. So he insisted I delete it. Spent 3 weeks in communist countries, and the only photo I get challenged over is because of the imperialist Americans! 
At the restaurant we needed to cross the road. Here there are very few gaps in the traffic, and the few zebra crossings make absolutely no difference, no one stops. The way to get across is to slowly take small steps into the traffic. At first they swerve in front of you, but eventually they have to swerve behind you. And then you just keep going, further and further. Even cars and lorries and buses will stop rather than run you down. Never look them in the eye. Green cross code? Walk swiftly? You'd be dead before you got half way.
Other Entries

Comments

2018-06-25