Straight Depression in Phnom Phen
Trip Start Oct 23, 2006
51Trip End ??? ??, 2007
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On day three we decided to go to the Killing Fields and S-21. During the the reign of the Khmer Rough, one of the bloodiest regimes to have ever existed, there was a genocide imposed by Cambodia's government onto it's own people. Pol Pot, the leader of the regime, was just as bloody a dictator as Stalin and Hitler though he was in power for a far shorter time. During the height of the violence, everyday Cambodian people were taken from there lives and brought to prisons like S-21 to be interrogated. Often times they were pried for evidence of involvement with anti-Khmer Rough political entities. Many times they were tortured during the interrogations to give false testimonies and eventually seal their fate
The killing fields was a site located about 14km outside Phnom Phen where people were taken from various prisons like S-21 to be murdered in mass. There were many such killing fields, but we happened to visit the busiest one. Millions were brought to this particular site by the truckload, grouped together, then usually killed by getting their throats slit or being bludgeoned with the butt of a rifle to save on bullets. In the end both sites were really depressing but good to have visited. Both facilities are now major tourist hot spots, and also serve to provide the world with evidence of the Khmer Rough's atrocities, which of course they denied. The facility at S-21 was particularly informative with many of the original torture devices left out for viewing. There was also a section of the school that had stories of a few of the victims' friends and relatives explaining what it was like to lose there loved ones in this absolutely crazy and sadistic time. We managed to visit both sites in one day, the effect was pretty heavy and called for some time to reflect. Even though we took a tuk tuk to get out there, we decided to walk back. We encountered one of the people we had met on the bus to Phnom Phen at our guesthouse and went out to dinner with him. We played that night very low key and called it early since we had to catch a bus to Siem Reap the next day to see the bright side of Cambodian history, the amazing Angkor Wat temples built by the ancient Khmer people.