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What we did in...Phnom Penh, Cambodia

November 28, 2017

Cheoung Ek Genocidal Center

#0057, Group 02, Phum Salakomreuk, Sangkat Salakomreuk, Siem Reap, Cambodia

 

The website for the actual center wasn’t working, but here are a few links:

Lonely Planet

Tourism of Cambodia

 

This tour was one of the most intense and profound things I have ever experienced.  I have always felt that the point of travel is to expand ourselves behind the horizons of our towns, cities and countries. I have never lived through a genocide, and neither has my immediate family.  But genocide is not in our past, it is happening now, all over the world.  This tour of this mass grave site of the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot is undeniably disturbing. It should be.  Pol Pot executed nearly 2 million of his own people

 

We had an amazing tour guide, a man in his early 30’s whose father and brother were murdered during the genocide.  At the time of our tour, he was working on his PhD writing a history of the atrocity.  I would highly, highly recommend hiring a local tour guide or at the very least getting the audio tour (which is supposed to be great).  Our tour guide was provided through our G Adventures tour, but I’m sure there are other amazing tour guides available. 

 

A walk through this site is a walk over human bones, teeth and fabric.  It is to walk through a brutal graveyard and see what hate and extremism can accomplish.

 

Here is an excerpt from Tourism of Cambodia

 

“Between 1975 and 1978, about 17,000 men, women, children and infants (including nine westerners), detained and tortured at S-21 prison (now Tuol Sleng Museum), were transported to the extermination (site) to (their) death to avoid wasting precious bullets. The remains of 8985 people, many of whom were bound and blindfolded, were exhumed in 1980 from mass graves in this one-time long an orchard; 43 of the 129 communal graves here have been left untouched. Fragments of human bone and bits of cloth are scattered around the disinterred pits. Over 8000 skulls, arranged by sex, are visible behind the clear glass panels of the Memorial Stupa, which was erected in 1988.”

 

 

S-21 Prison

See link for location

 

A high school turned prison, in total, 14,000 were thought to have been kept here throughout the Khmer Rouge (read more about it above) and transferred to the Killing Fields to be killed and buried. Only 7 people survived, two of which are commonly at the site talking to visitors.  Bou Meng paints his memories, and Chum Mey has written a memoir.  Tour the prison, and see the museum where thorough photographs and records of the prisoners were kept.

 

 

Russian Market (Phsar Toul Tom Poung)

We grabbed a tuk tuk and headed over to the market.  Note, it’s really called the Phsar Toul Tom Poung market, it was nick-named the Russian Market in the 80’s when Russians were the majority of tourists.  We have been to better markets, but still enjoy wandering around.  We did end up buying some wooden carving pieces for a pretty good deal.  Granted, then we had to carry them for 2 more weeks of our trip!  Below is us all sweaty with the woman we bought the carving from, she was super sweet and we talked for a long time.

 

 

Wat Phnom

This temple sits on the only hill in town, and although it has been rebuilt many times, the original was first placed here in 1372. There was quite a bit going on at the street level, but the temple itself was nice and quiet.

 

Royal Palace

Sothearos Blvd. between Streets 240 & 184

 

We were only able to walk by and see the palace at night, but you can do tours.  If we had had an extra day, we would have taken a tour.

 

If you want more info on what we ate in Phnom Penh, check out THIS post.  For general guidelines to eating gluten free in Cambodia, check out THIS one!

 

 

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