Travel Elysium

Just as a warning, some of the images and captions in this post may be confronting as it includes the Killing Fields and the S21 Prison of Phnom Penh.

So I’ve been absent for a little while for two reasons, one I’ve actually been living in the moment instead of through my phone, and the other is I smashed the screen on my phone so I’ve been too sad to use it 🙁 it does still work though.

Well, I guess the next interesting thing to update is my trip to Phnom Penh, which was actually more depressing than interesting. I caught a $15 six hour night bus from Siem Reap at 10:30pm, luckily I had a bunk all to myself. I was laughing to myself thinking if I was travelling with my friend Andy, he just wouldn’t fit!

Beds on the night bus

Beds on the night bus

So I arrived in Phnom Penh bright and early and almost 7 hours later instead of 6… And thankfully I could check straight in to my guesthouse. Which wasn’t that great for the amount I paid. It came to $18 and there was a brush I’m the bathroom full of hair which wasn’t mine. It seemed to be in an alright location to be able to walk to things.

Fancy Guesthouse

Fancy Guesthouse

I met up with people that I’d met in Siem Reap.  Later went to the Killing Fields which was a horrible enlightening experience. The fact that I had no idea these things had happened, and the fact they actually could happen was pretty disgusting. I still feel bad places like this are a tourist attraction. It definitely is important to be informed and to understand what has happened in our past. But here I was with everyone else taking pictures of bones, and mass graves, and sites of torture. I kept feeling torn between acknowledging it is important we are here and being exposed to the reality of what happened, and thinking to myself places of mass murder shouldn’t be an attraction for me to come and take photos of, because it is almost trivialising what has happened.

A site where more than 400 bodies were dumped.

A site where more than 400 bodies were dumped.

A tree in which they used to bash babies to death.

A tree in which they used to bash babies to death.

A shrine of 7 levels they have built to preserve all the skulls which were found after the atrocities had ended.

A shrine of 7 levels they have built to preserve all the skulls which were found after the atrocities had ended.

After this depressing visit, next stop was the S21 museum. Unfortunately all the English speaking guides were taken, and it was a super hot day. I didn’t get as much out of this experience as I probably should have done. The rooms were pretty chilling to enter, and many were filled with the true stories of what some inmates had experienced. I kept reflecting on the visit I had to Dachau concentration camp and wondering how it was that so much of the Holocaust is studied in Western schools, yet I hadn’t heard of the Khmer Rouge Regime until I had decided to come to Cambodia. It seems a constant thing in our history that the atrocities which occur in the Western world are given precedence over those which happen to the rest of the world.

S21 prison - Genocide museum

S21 prison – Genocide museum

I don’t really recall what else happened after this. I think I went back to the guesthouse and had a nap, and later wandered the markets and looked for dinner. The whole day was pretty sobering, and really made me reflect on what an absolutely lucky life I live in Australia. 

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