LIFES ONE LONG HOLIDAY - 2005 travel blog

Phenom Phen - Family of 6 on a motorbike!!

Roadside puncture.on route to the Killing fields with Ali and Cat

The Killing Fields - Pol Pot Regime

The Killing Fields - Pol Pot Regime

The Killing Fields - Pol Pot Regime

Statue outside The National Gallery

The National Gallery

S21 - Torture Cell

S21 - rules and regulations

S21 - one of the many boards of photos found

view from a cell at S21. Barbed wire to prevent suicides by...

Happy House guest house outside decking area


We were guide-book-free at this stage, which made us feel quite naked. Fortunatly the girls told us they had a recommendation to stay on the River. Good thing. Because the second we arrived at the drop-off point, we had about 50 people surround us to get us to check into their hotel or take their taxi. We managed to sift thru the hoardes and get into a tuk tuk, which took us to the lake area.

Found what was to become our favorite place to stay thus far -- the Happy Guest House -- and it was indeed Happy! $6 per night for both of us, outdoor bar overlooking the lake, free DVDs all day long, etc. And to top it all off, we saw Patrick from Saigon when we checked in -- he and Fred and Lottie had checked in the night before! Bonus!

The best thing about this place was the honesty policy. Anything you order to eat or drink, you write in a book and you pay for it all in the end. This was just too easy and at the same time quite dangerous. 6pm for happy hour turned into 3am! Never needed to leave the place! In fact, the next day we didn't. Took a well deserved, full day off. Slept in, watched 4 DVDs and just chilled.

Also needed to rest up for the Killing Fields the next day. Another historu lesson and mentally draining day. We set off in a tuk tuk at 8am so that we could do a full tour before it got too hot. We would have made it as well, had the tuk tuk not gotten a flat tire on the way. Conveniently there was a bike repair shack just up the road. So me, L, and the two sisters sat and sat and sat on the side of a dirt road for about 40 minutes while they literally melted the tire to repair the hole and replace the tire. Comic relief? The girls and I sat on little people chairs on a slant and ended up falling on top of each other like dominoes. Serves us right.

Back on the road, we finally made it to the Killing Fields. Warning: This is not for the weak stomached... The first thing you see is this tower, which looks like a temple. ON closer inspection, it is filled to the top with layers of human skulls, the actual vicitms of Pol Pot's genoicide in the 70's. The fields themselves are craters from mass graves which have been dug up. If you want more gruesome details, we can share them with you later. But it's too disturbing to put in writing.

If that wasn't enough to depress, we then headed to a place called S21. This was a former school turned into prison/torcher chambers. Pol Pot apparently captured and imprisoned any Cambodian who was intelligent or a threat of any kind to his regime. Including women and children. We watched a depressing film of how this all came to be. Saw pictures of all the victims and the torture chambers. One of the 7 survivors painted vivid scenes reenacting some of the torture methods and it wasn't pretty. Again, ask us later and we'll tell you more. Basically they took all the prisoners to the Killing Fields where they finished them off and threw them in these mass graves. Hard to believe this happened so recently as well, about 30 years ago...

This took a full day, only broken up by lunch at the Friends Cafe, another cafe run by underprivileged kids learning the catering trade, and by the National Museum which contained relics from Angkor Wat (will get to that later...)

Thank goodness for the Happy House. Had to end the day on a good note, which we did. In fact, for the first time this whole trip -- maybe even ever! -- I outlasted L. He stumbled back to the room at midnight, I stayed out til 3! Proud moment for me...

Next day was also an easy day. Hit the Russian Market -- though not a Russian in sight. Thousands of stalls of clothes, nik naks, food, etc. Could've spent 3 days and 3,000 GBP there. Fortunately for L, most of our cash was locked in the safe at the hotel, so we did only minimal damage...

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