Phnom Phen - the underestimated capital of Cambodia
|Phnom Penh riverside|
What we found, at first sight, was not too inspiring. A typical SEA big city, it took us quite a while to get to the hotel from the bus terminal, through narrow, dark, smelly streets. The hotel room was small but clean, however the bathroom was huge with a real shower, warm water and enough water pressure. The perfect relaxation and cleaning for us.
|Phnom Penh riverside|
|Phnom Penh pagoda|
|Cambodian street food - snakes, crickets, cockroaches|
|Cell block, S-21 prison|
What I heard about the genocide in Cambodia now was at least equally impressive. Our dear friends, whom we met in Thailand on this journey now, gave us a book of the memoires of Tiziano Terzani, who was one of the most important journalists covering news from Vietnam during the big war there. After reading his story, that refers a lot to Cambodian history. We watched the movie "The Killing Fields" that tells the story of Sydney Schanberg, who covered the media broadcasting about the events in Camvbodia during the Khmer Rouge era and I read a lot about the war and history of Cambodia in general.
This all was well visible in the museum. The prison consists of four big main buildings. Visitors can walk in and get an impression of what happened. Photographs of victims, cells, cloths, documents, paintings and original torture instruments let history horror become real. That all did not move me too much, as I have seen (just as everyone probably) so many documentaries, movies and war museums already. What really hit me surprisingly though was, when we walked out of the last building, after seeing all the photos of the leaders, survivers, victims, etc. suddenly there was an old man sitting on a little table. The face looked familiar. He sat behind a stock of books and signed them for the tourists.
|Bones of deceased prisoners|
I think it was very good for me to get the experience and to realize once again how terrible the world can be but that even though this is reality, it doesn't mean that it is the only reality. The contrast between what we saw in the museum and the beauty we saw all over the city/country lets me hope. And sure, once more I appreciate so much how incredibly lucky I actually am. It's a little too easy to forget that sometimes.
More pictures from Phnom Penh and the Tuol Sleng genocide museum (S-21)