Tuesday, 4/22/14; Phnom Penh:
After an successful plane ride we found ourselves in Phnom Penh early Tuesday morning. After checking into our hotel we hired a car, driver, and tour guide to take in the sights and sounds of Cambodia’s capital. Something in excess of 3 million of Cambodia’s 15 million people live and work in the city. There is one motor-bike for every 2.5 residents. That wouldn’t be too bad but there are also cars and trucks, and, 4 traffic lights (slight exaggeration) and NO stop streets. There is also some uncertainty as to the direction of traffic flow in each lane. We seldom exceeded 10 miles per hour, which is the only reason that the streets are not covered in mangled bodies.
The intensity of the sights and sounds, which included a visit a visit to the Killing Fields (see below), proved exhausting and we welcomed retiring to our hotel to recover our strength for tomorrow.
We visited, “The Killing Fields” today. The atmosphere was quiet and respectful with many listening to the historical narrative supplied by earphones. The feelings? Sadness, solemnity, and bewilderment! It was hallowed ground. See: http://www.killingfieldsmuseum.com/genocide1.html if you wish to learn more.
The enclosed pictures provide site narratives of what took place on the grounds. Notice the tall building lined with skulls and bones of the murdered. Notice the mounds from where bodies were excavated. Lastly, note the tree where even babies were slaughtered.
Excerpted from the website: On April 17, 1975, Phnom Penh fell under the control of the Khmer Rouge, the communist guerilla group led by Pol Pot. They forced all city residents into the countryside and to labor camps. During the three years, eight months, and 20 days of Pol Pot’s rule, Cambodia faced its darkest days, an estimated 2 million Cambodians or 30% of the country’s population died by starvation, torture or execution. Almost every Cambodian family has lost at least one relative during this most gruesome holocaust.