Landing in Phnom Penh, the heat and humidity hit me like a wall. I have gone through all four seasons over the last few weeks and I have arrived in a hot and sticky summer once again.
I have a little more time in Cambodia, so my plan was to move a little slower to let my body have a rest after the 18 hour days over the last 2 weeks.
Phnom Penh has a number of things that I wanted to check out, mostly to do with the Genocide that happened here just over 30 years ago. My first stop was the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek. This remembrance monument and park is about 15 kilometres from the centre of the city. I hired a Tuk Tuk for the afternoon to take me to all of the spots I wanted to see for about $20 USD.
Arriving at the park, I was immediately shown a video that described what happened here. At this very location, there were over 20,000 people slaughtered by the communists. Across the country, over 3 million people were murdered. It was chilling walking through the areas where the mass graves were excavated. There is a 40 metre concrete remembrance monument that holds the bones, sculls and clothing of those that were murdered here. The thing that upset me the most was the killing tree that was used by the executioners to beat infants and babies to death with.
After leaving noticeably distraught, I asked my driver to take me around to explore and photograph local life. I needed a short break before heading to S.21, the interrogation centre and prison. Prisoners were interrogated and tortured here before being sent to the killing fields.
S.21 was not altered or touched to preserve the look and feel of what went on here. The iron beds, chains and shackles are still in the prison cells and a lot of the interrogation and execution devices are on display throughout the prison. Photographs of broken and lifeless bodies were very upsetting to both me and others that were visiting. The uncensored and raw images are on display to show people the evil that existed here, only a short time ago.
After this long day of history, I walked the shore of the river and found a restaurant to enjoy a traditional Cambodian dinner of fish, fresh veggies and rice served in a coconut shell. My next stop is Siem Reap where I will be checking off another bucket list item.