Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Killing Fields and Halloween

Finally I reached a hostel in Phnom Penh after meeting a lovely tuk tuk driver.

We were settled to have a dorm at Mad Monkeys but the receptionist messed up so we got a three bed private room for the same price. This hostel were definitely down for partying.FB_IMG_1446516083979

After finding some local food and chatting for hours, which wasn’t that cheap as the area is expensive, we went to meet some friends at the hostel bar. We mingled, danced on the bar, had shots of bazokas before the majority of people headed to the club. However, I decided to get some kip.

The next morning I was awoken by a message alerting me that one of the British girls I had met lost all her stuff: passport, money, cards, phone.  Worrying slightly about her, I found her downstairs a couple of hours later all calm. One of the workers had safely put her bag behind the bar at the club and it was still there.FB_IMG_1446516079423

After all that excitement, I treated myself to salmon and scrambled egg on a bagel while planning the day ahead. I bid my farewells to the two Swedish guys I had been travelling with for the last week. It was time to go in different directions.

A group of five: four British girls and a Zimbabwean guys took a tuk tuk to the Killing Fields (Choeung Ek). I really didn’t know anything about the recent history of Cambodia.

Choeung Ek is a site of a former orchard and mass grave of victims of the Khmer Rouge Regine, where they executed over one million people between 1975 and 1979. Here, there are mass graves containing 8,895 bodies, which were discovered after the regine.

As I was walking around listening to the audio guide and reflecting on the victims horror stories, I could feel myself break down in tears with the torture these innocent people went through, and knowing that some of people who were part of this are still alive in a prison today. This place definitely opened my eyes to the recent history of Cambodia. The Killing Field has a Stupa (memorial tower),  skulls, bones and clothes remnants of victims and a detailed museum.FB_IMG_1446594727751

Once we got back to the hostel, a large group of traveller went to the central market to get food and Halloween costumes.

In the evening, we drank Halloween punch at the hostel bar then danced the night away at a local club. It was such a fun night with lots of laughs.

The following day, I’d arranged to get up early to go to S21 prison with two of the girls. I did oversleep but luckily they woke me up. The S21 prison (Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum) was an emotional experience, where we had a guide describe the tortures of the Khmer Rouge Regine and show us around.

received_10156272725135232The prison was formally a school but was turned into the security 21 prison when the Khmer Rouge Regime started: the buildings were enclosed in electrified barbed wire, the classrooms converted into tiny prison and torture chambers, and all windows were covered with iron bars and barbed wire to prevent escapes.

Here, people were tortured, chained together, forced to make false confessions, given 4 spoons of rice porridge a day, beaten and lived in unhygienic conditions. It was horrendous. At the end of the tour were two survivors sharing their story of the prison. received_10156272723315232I have no idea how they come back every day to face their terrible past.

Just before catching a bus to Battambang, I wandered around Phnom Penh with another girl visiting the Royal Palace, Wat Silver, National Museum, Hun Sen Park and the Independance Monument. It was getting extremely hot in Cambodia.

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