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The Orphanage Experience The Orphanage Exeperience is a non profit initiative, to take fun, educational & sustainable activities vital for a childs development to children in orphanages across the world. 2005 sees the Orphanage Experience off to Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.

Serendipity to Genocide

CAMBODIA | Monday, 12 December 2005 | Views [1258] | Comments [2]

Wow! we finally managed to leave Serendipity behind today - catching the 7.00am bus out of town by a cat’s whisker. Serendipity is like the Hotel 0f California - such a lovely place, but a complete vortex - making it really hard to leave. As most of you know we ended up satying in “free accomodation” at the beach - the only catch being that we had to buy at least one of our meals at the restaurant a day. We made so many friend - particuarly “the aunties” who are the proprieters and working girls of the coco shack where we stayed. Coco shack transpired to be a quasi brothal and no. 1 hangout for seedy old fat men. These disgusting old losers have been code named “the predators” or “the preds” for short. But the women were amazing they completely invited us into their home and lives without any hesitation. The children in serendipity are also incredible. Many of them speak almost fluent english and are very keen and effective salespeople - which of coarse can be trying at times. We made particuarly good friends with a group of three children; Votey (girl - 13), Channa (girl, 10) and Darryl (boy, age?). they were such spunky fun kids. We did so much with them, e.g. swimming, swimming lessons, did their hair, maths and just hung out. It seems to me you can be involved in a town like serendipity on a really superficial level - by staying in a cuchy restaurant, always eating at fancy places, and essentially ignoring the local people. Even with the preds in the equation - I am so glad we went and stayed at the coco shack and hung out with everyone - as it makes the experience infinitely more real and memorable. Our Khymer is getting a little bit better - we are able to say hello, good bye, thank-you very big big much (which everyone thinks is really funny), good, bad, you are beautiful, I want to kiss you (very helpful I’m sure) etc etc.

So we arrived in Phnom Phen at 12 ish after having a frantic start, having failed to correctly set out alarm clock and sleeping in!!!! But we made it and decided to tackle the Killing fields and S21 today - before the first orphanage in case we ran out of time………………….. Holy @!#*! was perhaps the most intense and emotional afternoon of my life….
We started at the “Killing fields” which is just outside Phnom Penh and is where the Khmer Rouge conducted mass executions of men, women and children. The skulls of the found victims are preserved in a monument in the centre and surrounding this are pits where excavations in the early 80s uncovered thousands upon thousands of remains. Apparently (I learned upon overhearing someone elses guide) that it was found by the vietnamese because of the terrible smell. Anyway the place is so airy its unreal. For some reason amongst all the pits are hundreds of butterflies - more than I have seen anywhere else in Cambodia.
From there we went across town to S21 or Tuol Sleng - the largest Khmer Rouge prision. Prior to the regime the complex was a school. Out of the thousands of people held captive in the prison - less than 10 survived. Many were taken from the prision out to the Killing fields for mass execution - without discrimination as to age or sex.
The place is utterly horrible. Much of it is now dedicated to exhibitions of photos, including mug shots taken by the Khymer Rouge upon inprisonment, then photos of torture, death etc. I started to feel pretty crazy and clostrophobic after a while. The individual cells are old school rooms divided by both wood and brick and used for interrogation. Many still have the shackles, and other equipment that the prisoners had such as bowls, a mental case (I’m not sure what for) and what looked like a metal petrol can - I think for water. In other rooms the prisoners were held all together and the mutiple shakles and the numbers for each prisoner are all still there. One of the buildings has barbed wire over all the varandahs - to stop the prisoners committing suiside over the edge. Overall it was extremely gruelling and sickening. It is utterly amazing that this all happened in the 70s - the inaction by the UN and the indirect support by the USA blows the mind and eliminates any trust I ever had in an international legal system. I have just read over my words on this and it just completely fails to give any justice to either place or my reaction to it. I would thoroughly recommend everyone to one day see it - or even do a google search on the subject.

I’m back at our guest house now which is appropriately called “okay” actually its more than ok it’s great - complete luxery after the coco shack - complete with running cold water and a flushing toilet!!!! Tomorrow we are to be picked up by the main guy from the Cambodian orphanage - everything is happening very fast! I feel totally unprepared for the next week - but I’ll have to just go with the flow.
Anyway thats all from me for now. Lots of love to you all.

Tags: Sightseeing



Hi my frens!!!! sounds like you are having an amasing time. I could never imagine what the khmer rouge was actually like. we learnt about it at school but the magnitude is enormous. I hope you are taking heaps of photos and can show me all about your travels. I am on a roadie at the moment in H town visiting my blister. Ill try and write you a big update when i get my butt back to wellies next week. You can hear all about my mad acid love at rythym and vines. love vee xoxox

  Vanessa aka Vee from number 6 Jan 4, 2006 4:36 PM


i love edgar cervantes sooooo much!! i wanna do him like damn i wanna F***!!!!!!already

  aracely martinez from animo Jan 18, 2007 6:41 AM

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