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Loose in Cambodia

Conquering Independence!

CAMBODIA | Saturday, 23 February 2008 | Views [594]


I met my tuk-tuk driver at 7:30am and we made our way 15km south-west to the Killing Fields. The fields were a haunting reminder of the carnage during the Khmer Rouge. Thousands of skulls were enshrined in a memorial tower and the pits remained where mass graves were excavated. The thought of what people went through here made me sick to my stomach but visiting imprinted an important piece of history into my heart.

However, some very clever children tricked me out of some money! I fell for their directions at the back of the killing fields and they distracted me by speaking fluent English. They asked me to take their photo and then hounded me for some money! I fell for their perfectly executed plan! I didn’t mind too much as they were happy to share a dollar between them and then they left me to take a very long walk back around to the car park! Locals -1 Dumb tourist – zero.

I boarded my tuk-tuk and we made our way back to the city to the Tuol Sleng Museum or also known at S21. This was a school turned into a torture headquarters for the Khmer Rouge. This graphic reminder of Khmer Rouge brutality has remained greatly unchanged from when the Vietnamese found it in the late 70s. I spent a worthwhile $6 on an English-speaking guide who showed me around this prison and told me stories of what happened in torture rooms. My most vivid memory was the blood splatters on the ceilings of torture rooms after the victims’ throats were cut.

After my extensive tour I explored the museum myself and went back to the rooms where thousands of photographs of men, women and children were posted up. Some of the prisoners had their identification numbers pinned through their skin and not their clothes.

I boarded my tuk-tuk a little depressed but glad I can take home a piece of history and a new-found appreciation of Cambodia’s people. I was picked up from my hotel at 11:30am to go to the bus station bound for Siem Reap. I ended up sitting next to Bronwyn who was from Brisbane Australia – about one hour’s drive from where I live! She was also travelling alone and we talked all trip about our adventures. We realised our flights out of Siem Reap were also the same so we agreed to catch up at the airport and exchange details then.

Siem Reap was vastly different from anywhere I had been in Cambodia. It was bustling with tourists and peppered with 5-star hotels and resorts. My guide said there are 92 hotels to choose from and about 400,000 people living in the city but  the population is boosted as one million tourists visit every year! My hotel was very luxurious and was close to the action of the Old Market and Pub Street. Every type of cuisine was on offer here and every 10 metres housed a massage parlour.

I ventured out for dinner and felt very safe on the streets alone as the night was bustling with tourists. I had pizza for dinner (yes I know what you’re thinking) and met two travellers who joined me for a drink. We all went to the night market and picked up some bargains before going our own ways for a night of rest before temple exploring tomorrow.

Tags: Adventures

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