Visit to Choeung Ek Killing Fields and S-21 Prison

Trip Start Nov 16, 2004
Trip End Nov 15, 2005

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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Arrived in the capital on Monday following a 5 hour bus ride from Siam Reap. I paid $3 for the ride, I'm not sure how much the zillions of mosquitos paid. I think we all enjoyed Angkor so were sad to leave but we have to keep on moving to see everything else.

Had some food and drink at a good place called The Pink Elephant on Monday night, along the river front. Got back to 'No Problem', our guesthouse, to discover our floor had been flooded after a plumbing problem. Ironic that in Koh Lanta our bungalow didn't get wet at all. Immediate assesement was that my camera was damaged but after a day of drying it seems to be working okay.

Tuesday was a strange day. My first image of Cambodia before I came here was of its many killing fields scattered around the country following the 4 year reign of Khmer Rouge. In the morning we visited Choeung Ek Killing Field where 17,000 people were killed at this extermination camp. All but 43 of the 129 mass graves here exhumed so show the horror that occurred here. 8985 skulls can be viewed in the Memorial Stupa that are arranged by sex and age. Our guide pointed out a few skulls to show how they had died.

In the afternoon we moved onto S-21 (security prison) that was a High School until the Khmer Rouge turned it into their largest detention centre. This really brings home the reality of what occurred as you enter a cell, converted from a school room, that has been used to inflict torture on many of its prisoners. The KR took photographs of prisoners on entry which are now on display. Most of the prisoners were kept here for interegation for a couple of months in horrendous conditions before being moved to Killing Fields to be executed.

It was all very shocking stuff. None of it was nice viewing but I felt I learnt alot. None of us commented in the rickshaw on the way back, just silence, which spoke for itself.


We are currently (Thu 13 December) in Kratie, 348km northeast of Phnom Penh. We have been to see some freshwater Irrawaddy dolphin this morning on the ginat Mekong River, a few km's away from the centre of Kratie. Only a few Irrawaddy dolphins (or Martin Harris's as Cath likes to call them) remain as many were hunted during Pol Pot's regime and since by lazy fisherman using dynamite to fish with. They were quite a distance from us but we saw glimpses of a few dolphins around the boat - maybe it was the same one - who know's?! This is my first proper look at the Mekong River, and even now in dry season it looks impressive. I'll be seeing some more of it as I pass through Vietnam and Laos.

Not a great deal to do around here otherwise but its good to see some more of Cambodia. We are back off to Phnom Penh tomorrow for 2/3 nights before heading to Vietnam.

Take care.
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