Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Killing Fields & S21 Genocide Museum

We paid $30 for 2 tuk tuks to drive us to the Killing Fields and the S21 Genocide Museum. We were charged $5 each entrance fee but that included a fantastic audio tape, that we all agreed was very informative and useful.

When you walk around here it is hard to even imagine the horror of what happened. The sun was shining, birds were tweeting and the whole area, especially around the lake seemed so peaceful.

No one spoke during the tour, instead we listened intently to the devastating 
account of the few survivors and a narrator explaining the torture and humiliation that thousands of innocent people experienced under the ruling of Pol Pot.

Below i have posted photos of the signs explaining what happened at the Killing Fields

 This is where hundreds of people were buried in shallow graves

 To this day you could still see teeth embedded in the ground here

 No words

Some of the victims clothing

After visiting the Killing Fields we went to the S21 Genocide Museum where the prisoners were held before being murdered at the Killing Fields. We were charged $2 entrance fee and were just in time to watch a documentary that is aired at 10am and 3pm daily. 

The hour long film was really interesting and had interviews from families that had lost loved ones during Pol Pots reign. There was also an interview with a survivor of the S21 and a prison guard, who openly talked about his job role at the prison and how he was responsible for killing 5 people.

 S21 used to be used as a school until it was turned into a prison

 Prisoners were crammed into these rooms and shackled at their ankles

 Just a few of the many victims

Some of the cells that victims were held in

 Victims were tortured here into confessing to crimes that they did not commit

Victims were tortured here by being hung upside down and dunked into the pots filled with water. This would make the victim feel as though they were drowning and so they would be forced to admit to crimes they never committed. 

Once the day drew to an end we all felt quite subdued and a little emotional. It really hits home what actually happened here and it's scary to think that all this occurred only 36yrs ago and without the knowledge of the rest of the world.
I found the day to be very educational, as during my time at school we had not been taught about any of the history surrounding Pol Pots reign and even before i had visited i had very little knowledge.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Phnom Penh

As we arrived in the evening we found that many guest houses were fully booked and hotels were way out of our price range. We ended up finding two rooms available at 'Long Lin House' and paid $7 each for a double room with a fan and a private bathroom. Josh, Luke, Aaron and Josh shared a large room with 3 beds and a shared bathroom for $16 between them.

Our room was the last double available and had a large window looking directly into the kitchen. The room itself was small, smelt damp/mouldy, the bathroom smelt of urine and it was grimy, although the bed linen appeared clean.

Our room

We asked to move to a different room the following day as the smell was pretty bad and the kitchen noise was a bit annoying. The owner said we could move the next day as people were due to check out, however they didn't and the owner then said we could keep our room for $6 a night instead, which we agreed to.

We spent two days here, one at the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum and the other visiting the Russian Market. To get to the market we hired a tuk tuk there and back for $5 between Ian and I. The market has many stalls selling knock off designer goods, tourist gifts and food. It was nice to look around and on the outskirts there are a few factory outlet shops selling many high street designs from Armani Exchange to Gap and Forever21.

Gifts for sale inside the Russian Market

On our last evening here we had a walk along the riverside, watched the locals working out to techno music and playing football and then proceeded to a rooftop bar called Le Moon. Here we drank a cocktail and watched the sunset. Notice how i only said 'a' cocktail; these were $4.50 each, making them more expensive than our room!

Below are some photos we took during the evening

 People exercising at the riverside

 The view from Le Moon

Bus journey from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

We paid $8 each for the bus and decided to travel at 12:30pm. There are other times available ranging from 07:30am - overnight. We were picked up from our hotel at 12:00pm and driven to the bus station, this was included in the price of the bus ticket.

The bus had a toilet on board and we departed at 1:00pm. The journey was quite bumpy along the way, more so than last time for some reason but we arrived safely in Phnom Penh at 7:00pm.

We hired a tuk tuk for $1 each to take us to some cheap accommodation.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Angkor Wat

Once again we used the same tuk tuk drivers and booked a sunrise tour of Angkor Wat. We were charged $6 each for the tuk tuk and the tickets to Angkor Wat are priced at $20 for the day.

Take a jumper as it's chilly during the early morning. For women a scarf may come in handy as in one of the temples i wasn't allowed in because my shorts were above my knees but to be honest this didn't affect my trip in any way. A torch is also useful if you are embarking on a sunrise tour.

After buying our tickets we arrived at Angkor Wat in the dark and waited patiently with a large crowd of other eager tourists for the sun to come up. We didn't have the best sunrise but still managed to get a few good shots.

For the next few hours we enjoyed the beauty of the relatively quiet Angkor Wat until we got hungry and decided we needed some breakfast. Angkor Wat is a really fascinating place to explore and some of our time here was spent relaxing on the grass and taking in the magnificent views.
 Ian, Jason, Luke & Josh
 Aaron, Luke & Ian

 Ian, Luke, Aaron & Josh

After breakfast we were taken to another temple. As well as the intricate carvings there were large faces dominating the structure, unfortunately we weren't told of the name of this temple but it was a pleasure to visit and would make a great place for hide and seek!

The final temple we were driven to had huge trees growing out of it and much of the temple was in ruins, however some of this was now in the process of being restored.
The tuk tuk driver called this temple the tomb raider temple as, for obvious reasons, this was where the computer game Tomb Raider was based around. The boys seemed to like this fact but i was just in awe of the tree roots that tightly gripped the stonework and tangled within the temple walls which would of course inevitably cause the stone to crack and tumble.

By 1:30pm we were all pretty worn out (i have no idea how anyone can do a sunrise tour and carry on through to the whole afternoon!) and were dropped off back to our guesthouse.

There are so many temples here i think you would need a couple of months to visit them all and there is obviously a huge chunk that we have missed out on seeing. If you do want to visit the many more temples here, i would suggest staying for at least 1 week. To be honest i doubt i could have convinced the boys to have another day of temple exploring!