Sailing into Cambodia
03.02.2017 - 03.02.2017 33 °C
Today our Scenic Free Choice was to visit the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek which is the most well known of over 300 killing fields throughout Cambodia. The bus took almost an hour to get there as the traffic in Phnom Penh was diabolical. Our guide told us the story of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in very frank terms and Paula, the Cruise Director on the ship gave us a very comprehensive overview too a couple of days ago. Even though we lived through that time, it didn't really have much of an impact on us at the time, but visiting the actual site today, certainly changed all that.
As we entered the complex, our guide pointed out a man sitting at a desk and told us he was the one who, as a young boy of 16 found this killing field after Pol Pot had fled the country. He and his family had returned to their family home which was next door to an old unused Chinese cemetery and while he was walking through the fields, he came across two open pits of hundreds and hundreds of rotting bodies. He told his family and they told him to be quiet and not say anything to anyone, but after a couple of weeks, officials arrived at their home and the young man took them into the fields to show them what he had found. Excavation commenced and the horror of the Pol Pot regime was unearthed, time and time again. Two million Cambodians were to lose their lives by the hand of this crazy dictator murderer, Pol Pot. And in the cruellest of ways. This razor edged piece of plant was used to slowly saw through people's throats.
We saw the Truck Stop where the prisoners were offloaded.
The Detention Centre.
The Executioners' Working Office.
The Chemical Substances Storage Room.
The Killing Tools Storage Room.
The Killing Tree where they beat children to death on this tree.
And the memorial. Nine stories of skulls and bones. We lit an incense stick, placed it in the bowl and went into the memorial.
Whevever the wet season comes, more bones and clothes are unearthed. There are pits everywhere which were mass graves. It was the most distressing place to visit. Why did the world let this happen? And why is it still happening?
We then were taken to the high school that Pol Pot turned into a prison and torture place. No photos were allowed inside. I'm not sure why but it was pretty dreadful. Outside there were two men who had survived the period. Also these four children were the only children found alive in the prison when Pol Pot fled the country.
We came back to the Scenic Spirit for lunch. The other groups were having lunch off the ship.
I went for my second massage - a Vietnamese one and it was lovely.
At 4.00 pm we hopped into a tuk tuk for our ride to Raffles Le Royal Hotel for a High Tea. The tuk tuks are motorised and it was lovely whizzing along the streets, with our driver pointing out some of the sights of Phomn Penh. We arrived at Raffles and were given a guided tour by one of the staff. It is a lovely old hotel and for some reason, Pol Pot didn't lay a hand on it.
Then we went in for our High Tea and our Femme Fatale cocktail which was named in honour of Jackie Kennedy's visit to Cambodia in 1967. She left her lipstick mark on a glass and it is displayed in a glass cabinet. The chef at Raffles is from Perth and has been here two years and in Cambodia for four. We had lots of yummy things and the scones were delicious. Back to the ship by tuk tuk at 6 pm, port talk by Paula and then into dinner. Good grief! as if any of us could eat another thing! But we did!
After dinner we went up to the lounge to listen to a singer/guitarist Scoddy. He was originally from Hobart and came to Cambodia eight years ago to oversee the transcripts of the war crimes trials. He sang Bob Dylan songs and was quite good.
Another late night!