The second stop on our tour of southeast Asia was Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital. We’d read some scare stories about this city, it was supposed to be dirty and not so safe and the bus ride through the outskirts didn’t fill me with confidence. I was beginning to believe those negative reviews…
Luckily it wasn’t such a horrible place after all, in fact it pleasantly surprised us! We had a few firsts in PP: first time seeing a pagoda, first time riding in a tuk-tuk, first conversation/selfie with a monk and so on…
It goes without saying any post I do will mention the history of the place, I love me some history! Phnom Penh’s history is quite a devastating one. The Khmer Rouge came to power in the 1970s and committed awful atrocities on their country. A huge percentage of the population died as a result of the Khmer Rouge. They targeted anyone deemed to be a traitor to their cause, apparently even having soft hands showed you weren’t a worker and could get you in serious trouble. I doubt there are many Cambodians alive today who didn’t lose a relative of some description during the dark times 40 or so years ago.
There are 2 places in Phnom Penh to visit which drive home the brutality of the Khmer Rouge, the prison they created from an old high school and the killing fields just outside the city – no explanation needed there. Warning: The photos from these places are very disturbing, you might not want to continue reading!
The prisoners were detained in the converted prison in awful conditions, the situation was so bad that barbed wire was fixed to stop people committing suicide. The instruments of torture the regime used are displayed in the prison, Auschwitz is the only place I have been to that compares.
Prisoners were taken from the city to the fields where they would be murdered. The country was so poor that using bullets to kill was discouraged because they cost money, they used objects to beat or cut the poor victims. Sometimes the sharp branches(like in the picture below) of trees were even used to cut necks. New pieces of clothing and bones are still being discovered at the site, it’s crazy to think this took place only several decades ago.
The next post will be on the second place we visited in Cambodia – Siem Reap, it’ll be a bit more cheery. Promise.