Advancing on the capital

Trip Start Feb 18, 2011
Trip End Mar 13, 2011

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A large part of the day was spent in the bus, as we went from the tourist town of Siem Reap to Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh. The ride itself was pretty uneventful; the road was fairly good with the exception of the last 50 kilometres, which was a bit of a crawl as the road was more-or-less a single lane.

The instant we got out of the bus, we were confronted by a throng of the most persistent tuktuk drivers we had come across to date. It seems that in Cambodia, nobody just walks from one place to another. The locals have their bicycles, motorbikes, tuktuks, cyclos (basically a modified pushbike with passenger seats on the front), cars, trucks or buses, and the tourists are faced with the choice of being constantly harrassed for a tuktuk ride (to the point where it's difficult to even walk along as there are too many tuktuks in the way), or take a ride and cop a face full of everybody else's fumes, while paying $2 for the privilege of a 700 metre ride.

Anyway, the one thing we did manage to fit in today was a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Once a school, this compound was converted to a prison and torture chamber for about 20,000 people during the reign of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979. Inmates were imprisoned and tortured and forced to "confess" that they had ties to the CIA or KGB (which of course was never true). The cells in which they were kept were tiny, and of course did not look particularly comfortable. Once they finally confessed, they were executed at the killing fields. The pictures will tell a better story (warning: some of the pictures aren't all that pretty), but one thing I did not realise was that although Pol Pot died in 1998 and the Khmer Rouge hasn't been a threat for a number of years, the trials of the other leaders are still ongoing.

Tomorrow we're also going to the fields themselves for some more sobering history, but on a lighter note, we're doing another cooking class and riding four-wheelers around the country fringes of the city at sunset.
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Peter J on

IT's funny haven't herd dead kennedys in ages but heard HOliday in Cambodia twice in two days. Knew I needed to catch up on Mlogging. Sounds like you guys are having a good time.

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