Trip Start Feb 11, 2007
40Trip End ??? ??, 2008
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As many of you know, the Cambodia of today is still recovering from the effects and actions of the Khmer Rouge Regime (1975-1978). Led by Pol Pot, the 'revolution' aimed at 'quickly' transforming Cambodia into a Maoist cooperative society, where only two classes remained, factory workers and agrarian peasants. To achieve their goal, Khmer Rouge rounded up hundreds of thousands of doctors, teachers, lawyers, engineers and intellectuals to be systematically tortured and murdered. Over 2 million died over the four years. Many were murdered. The rest starved.
I hired a moto driver for the day to take me around and we started at the killing fields of Choeung Ek
We then went to Tuol Sleng, a former Khmer Rouge S-21 prison. What was once a school, was converted into a holding prison for individuals 'opposing' the regime. Again, it was quite a powerful experience, as we were all shown a film documenting the genocide and the role of the prison.
As I said earlier, many Cambodians are still struggling to come to terms with all of this, as many lost friends and family. As with my guide, many are also still quite vocal. What I have found is that while many the people i have met have very little monetary wealth, their strength and livelihoods revolve around their family. They also seem to be very honest and courteous, even the taxi drivers..
I spend the afternoon cruising around the Russian Market. Like most SE Asian markets, you can buy anything there. I am still in awe.
I also got a chance to visit the Royal palace, which is basically a massive complex of some 50 structures, highlighted by the Silver Pagoda, so called for the 50 tones of silver tiles on the floor. Those royals sure did have taste.
I am off to an early start tomorrow, as I am catching a bus up to Battambang to continue in my brief introduction to the Kingdom of Cambodia.