After the time in Siem Reap recuperating, reading, etc. we had a quick stop in the Cambodian capital.
We starting with a ride to the Killing Fields memorial at Choeung Ek. The audioguide was very helpful, walking you around what is a seemingly normal grassy meadow. The few sheds that had existed during the Khmer Rouge were torn down for building supplies after the end of the regime, so it hadn’t been discovered until some time after the end of the killings what had happened there.
What had been a small chinese graveyard had been the site for hundreds of killings a day for years.
There was a stupa built after the war to house the remains found of the victims.
Most of the killings were done with simple implements such as hammers, machetes, or even the sharp palm branches as they deemed it too expensive to use bullets.
Perhaps the most horrifying was the killimg tree used to kill infants and toddlers, often by holding them by the legs and smashing their head against the tree. They were thrown in a pit near by after they were smashed.
There had been so many bodies buried that the monsoons still uncover more bones and teeth, often next to the clothes the person was buried in. There were signs asking visitors to watch their step due to remains being unearthed.
There audioguide included a number of personal stories of experiences under the Khmer Rouge and dealing with the trauma it caused. It was tremendously moving and sad.
Phnom Penh Cultural Highlights
The next day we were relieved to do some casual sightseeing.
A golden duckfish?:
The National Museum, which focused on Khmer stone carvings, such as this impressive Garunda from Hindu mythology:
The Royal Palace grounds had a number of similar buildings, including some with viewing rooms showing some examples of clothes and silver pieces used in the palace.
The adjacent Silver Pagoda, which houses an emerald Buddha and vast array of silverwork created in his honor.
One of our dinners, on the banks of the Mekong, which was surprisingly only developed on one side, with a few buildings on the other bank. The Cambodia food has been great; quite similar to Thai food, but with a few specialities such as Amok. The fish has been very good everywhere and the fruit shakes very refreshing.
We took a tuk-tuk home and enjoyed seeing more of the city.