Saturday, April 05, 2008

Day 1032 – Phnom Penh – Siem Reap, Cambodia

Day 1032 – 4th April 2008 +6:00 GMT

Went out for breakfast to a local bakery and then checked out of the hotel.

The Pavillion Hotel

The Pavillion Hotel

We caught a Tuk Tuk to the airport, we were going to travel by boat but due to the water level being too low we decided to fly. We flew with Siam Reap airlines and we had a very easy flight on an ATR 72 aircraft even had a meal during the 35 minutes in the air.

Me By Our Plane

Arriving At Siem Reap

When we landed we collected out bags and got a taxi to the River Garden Hotel. The hotel is a 9 room boutique hotel surrounded by trees and ponds and has a jungle pool. We have a large room with a huge balcony. The staff are so friendly and it feels like we have butler service.

Our Room At River Garden Hotel

Our Private Balcony

The Jungle Pool

We got a tuk tuk into the town centre and had a wander around the market and the shops. There is a modern street in the centre of town called Bar Street which as the name suggests is full of bars.

Alleyway Next To Bar Street In Siem Reap

Me With A Local Angkor Beer

We had some dinner and then headed back to the Hotel for the night.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Day 1031 – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Day 1031 – 3rd April 2008 +6:00 GMT
Had breakfast at hotel then we hired a Tuk Tuk driver for the day and headed out to the Killing Fields which is 15km south west of the city. We had our first traffic jam on route a water buffalo had jack-knived and there were horn everywhere which blocked the road, the police spent 20 minutes sorting out the traffic and then we were on our way through the villages.

Phnom Phen Monument

Water Buffalo Pulling Cart

Water Buffalo

Three On Bike With Luggage
Paddy Rice Fields

Cambodian People Party
The city is made up of the very rich and the very poor, there are many large 4 story buildings with wooden shacks behind them. We arrived at the Killing Fields which is the Genocide Centre.

Chueung Ek Genocidal Centre

If you don’t know the recent history of Cambodia here it is: After the 2nd World War Cambodia had no university’s and only one secondary school. From 1969 Cambodia was sucked into the Vietnam war and was carpert bombed by America. Fighting only stopped when Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge which Pol Pot was the leader. Pol Pot then decided to wipe out the country’s culture and any people he felt threaten the country these included all peasants, workers, technicians, engineers, doctors, teachers, students, Buddhist monks, ministers and soldiers of all rank. He thought anyone who wore glasses or could speak a foreign language was a parasite and they were immediately killed, over 2 million people were tortured and then murdered for no reason, this was 20% of the country’s population. It was men, women, children even new born babies were murdered. If you were going to be murdered he wanted to wipe out your entire family, so your spouse and all your children would also be murdered. The killing fields were where they brought truck loads of people each day and beat them to death with hoe’s, cane’s and anything else they had to hand. People were even buried alive, if they had not died from the torture. Over 300 people a day were brought to this site to die. The bodies were just tossed into mass graves and left. The Buddhist people believe that if you are not given a proper burial then you will not go to an afterlife and this still worry’s the victims family’s today.
The first thing you see when you enter the grounds is a huge pagoda and as you get close to it you see the inside is layered with shelves full of skulls and the bottom is the remains of the clothing from the victims.
Pagoda Of Skulls

Shelves Of Human Skulls

Shelves Of Human Skulls
Killing Fields
They have retrieved almost 9000 sets of bones from the site and many thousands are still lying buried. As you walk around you pass graves marked as Mass Grave of victims with no heads and mass graves of women and children etc. It is a very disturbing place in a country that has probably suffered the most in the last 40 years.
The Killing Fields - Graves

Grave Of Headless Victims

Killing Tree

Unidentified Bones

We then got the Tul Tuk to Tuol Sleng Prison known as S 21 (Security Area 21). This used to be a school, but Pol Pot took over it and made it into a holding and torturing facility for the Phnom Penh people.
Tuol Sleng Prison

Info At Tuol Sleng Prison

Tuol Sleng Prison
The first building was used as a torture room and each of the ground floors classrooms became torture chambers. The second building had the first and second floor made into tiny cells only measuring 0.8m x 2.0m, the third floor was used as collective cells were prisoners were kept in large numbers. Each person was photographed and then tortured and forced to write a confession then trucked off to be murdered. Out of the 20’000 people brought to the prison only 7 survived. The have photo’s on display of some of the victims brought through the prison and many photos of the dead after they had been tortured. A room houses skulls and you can see where they have been shot or bludgeoned to death. It is a truly horrifying place where the most atrocious acts of torture have taken place.
Graves Of Last 14 Killed At Tuol Sleng Prison

Tuol Sleng Prison

Tuol Sleng Prison

Brick Cells At Tuol Sleng Prison

Wooden Cells At Tuol Sleng Prison
A Torture Room At Tuol Sleng Prison
A Cell At Tuol Sleng Prison

Human Skulls At Tuol Sleng Prison

Human Skulls Recovered Still Blindfolded

Tuol Sleng Prison

We then got the Tuk Tuk to drop us off at the river front and we had a walk along the river and stopped at a restaurant for some food. It is so hot here in the high 30’s and a dry heat so we need lots of water.

Petrol Station In Cambodia

We then had a walk along the river.
River Tonle Sap In Phnom Penh
We Then walked to the National Museum, the building is lovely but the contents of the museum was a bit disappointing it had lots of stone Buddha statues from the 5th – 7th Century and that was about it. A few artifacts here and there but not much information on them or on the history of the country. The courtyard was lovely but that is the most that can be said about the place.
The National Museum

Courtyard Of The National Museum

Me In Courtyard Of The National Museum

Courtyard Of The National Museum
We left and walked over to the Royal Palace where the king lives.
The Royal Palace
Throne Room Of The Royal Palace

Napoleon III Building

The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace
Only part of the palace was open today and we had a walk around the grounds and into a few of the buildings and temples onsite. The Palace is amazing to look at but other than walking around and looking at the buildings there is not much more onsite to do.
The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace

Jill At The Royal Palace

Model Of Angkor Wat At The Royal Palace
So we left and walked back to the hotel where I had a much needed swim. We went out again in the evening to a restaurant called Free Bird the food was great and we sampled the local Anchor beer.
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