|And so it was an early transfer to the airport for a 40minute flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Where it was every bit as hot, or hotter than Saigon! It apparently gets up to 40C this month, before the rain start next month.
Arrival here was like a less populated version of Saigon, less people, but same no rules on the road applies, this time there are trucks jam packed full of people, hanging out the side off the back,. Apparently it is the people from the provinces who come into the city like this.
Saw people with pigs strapped upside down on the back of their mopeds, kids running around naked, playing in the dirt, washing in the river....
Its real poverty here , but much worse than Ive seen, apart from in Bolivia and Peru.
Anyhoo, started the day at the Royal Palace, where the architecture is just awesome, this is the residence of the King of Cambodia. New one came to reign in October last year when his dad abdicated(for the second time).
Inside the grounds there was the Silver Pagoda which had over 50000 tiles made of silver each weighing 1kg each! Pretty heavy carpet!. And a life size Buddha covered in 5984 (precisely!!) diamonds.
Then it was time for the sad stuff, a visit to Tuol Sleng genocide museum. Prior to 1975 it was an ordinary high school, then the Khmer Rouge turned it into the S21prison and interrogation centre. It was one of many such centres but was the largest in the country. It was just awful between the years of 75-78 more than 17000 prisoners were held here before being transferred to the extermination centre of Choeng Ek- also known as the Killing Fields. Like the Nazis they had records of every person entering the centre, photos of all who entered, amny before and after torture, all on show.
Instruments of torture, prisoners cells, interrogation rooms, where a bed, a box for defacating and shackles were all in. When the Vietnamese liberated the prison early 79 they found 7 prisoners alive, and another 14 just tortured to death by the Khmer Rouge on their arrival. Photos of these bodies are still on show.
Just to get totally depressed I went out to the killing fields, 15k out of the centre. Mass graves where 8985 bodies have been exhumed, other graves have been left. All around the graves are bits of bones, clothes, it keeps coming to the surface every year during the wet season. Another time in history where its hard to believe how terrible man can be.
And, eh that was my awffy cheery trip to Phnom Penh!!
• Read- First They Killed My Father by Luong Ung, a terrible story of a family of a government official during the occupation of the Khmer Rouge.
• Reports say that 3.5million people were exterminated during the regime, about 50% of the population
• Its one of the poorest countries in South East Asia, $260 is average yearly salary .
• Now its population is 13million and rising, tho 50% of the population is under 15yrs, with 1 in 10 dying before their 5th birthday due to malnutrition etc.
• 99% of Cambodians lost family members during the Khmer Rouge
• 80% Buddhists, 10% R.C, 10% mixture of Muslim, Christian, Taoists.
• Outrageously, there are still members of the Khmer Rouge still in the government , due to an arrangement set up by the UN in 1997 to try and form free democtaric elections representing all races, trying to keep all happy, a bone of contention among many!
• $150billion have been raised by foreign nations in order to start the court proceeding against the previous members of the Khmer Rouge, due to start later on this year