Day 12 – Vientiane, Laos to Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The Killing Fields CambodiaToday was a nice change from the buses, we were able to check out of our hotel and jump on a plane to Cambodia. One thing to note about Asian Airports, they like to call washrooms “happy moments.” Food for thought.

Another thing to note, going through customs into Cambodia was terrifying compared to Thailand or Laos. They scanned each of our finger prints and checked if we were flagged for any travel alerts. Just be prepared.

Today was also going to be another heavy history day. First stop was The Killing fields. In 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge regime arrested and eventually executed almost everyone suspected of connections with the former government or with foreign governments, as well as professionals and intellectuals. Over 2 million citizens were killed.

The killing fields were where the regime would kill the citizens and throw them into mass graves. (photo above) One interesting note, tourists come to Cambodia to put a bracelet on the mass graves, the Cambodians were confused why this was happening, as it is not their custom to show honour that way.

skulls - Cambodia
The next stop on our tour was to visit one of the prisons,the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. In 1975 they took a lot of schools that were newt built by the old government and turned them into prisons.  I find it upsetting how they took something wonderful like getting an education and turned it into something to fear.

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

The Khmer Rouge renamed the complex “Security Prison 21” (S-21) and construction began to adapt the prison to the inmates: 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. Out of an estimated 17,000 people imprisoned at Tuol Sleng, there were only twelve known survivors. Only 2 are still alive.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I think its one of those places you need to experience to see how terrifying it is. After that we went to our hotel. In Phnom Penh, for the first time on our trip we were harassed by beggar children. It was quite the culture shock. We had children who were 6-8 years old trying to sell us bracelets and books.

For dinner we went to a restaurant who take street children (once they are 16 + ) and teach them to cook and how to waitress so they can get off the streets. Its cool to see these initiatives being put into place. I hope they work.


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