|Our tuk tuk driver was on time at 8am & we headed out to the site of the "Killing Fields" about 8 miles from our hotel on the Southern outskirts of Phnom Penh. Nothing much of the original buildings remain as they were torn down & burnt when it was discovered what had been going on here. We took the audio tour which described the way that the prisoners were brought here in trucks & then eaten & hacked to death, bullets were too expensive. They were then thrown into pits & buried.
Loud music & communist propaganda speeches blared out from loudspeakers to cover the victim's cries as they realised their fate. The worst stop on the tour was the tree, covered now in colourful wrist bands. This was the tree where the guards simply swung & bartered the young babies against the trunk to kill them before throwing them into the adjacent pit.
Thousands of bodies have been dub up from the pits & the area is pock marked with craters, almost as if it had been bombed. Not all the bodies have been recovered & with the rain & general erosion fragments of bone & clothing are still coming to the surface. The area is so peaceful now that it is hard to imagine the horrors that went on & to think that this was the Cambodian people killing their own people is just so horrible.
At the front of the site they have built a tall memorial stupa which houses tall glass cases housing thousands of skulls, many bearing terrible signs of the way they were killed. It is possible to go inside the building & see in detail the rows & rows of battered skulls as well as other piles of bones. A very morbid & somber, but probably a necessary, reminder of the past atrocities.
We came away somewhat subdued & reflective having learned a bit more of Cambodian history. At least the Americans were'nt responsible for Pol Pot & the Khmer Rouge.
Back at our hotel we packed once again & were picked up at 11.30am & taken to the riverside quay to get the speedboat to take us downriver & back to Vietnam. Only problem was that it was a slow speed boat & was over an hour late arriving to collect us. We did finally get away about 1.45pm & it was a nice smooth run down the Mekong River.
We had to clear immigration at the border in Cambodia & then again a bit further down river in Vietnam but this went smoothly too. The ride down the river was pretty uneventful as we cruised along. The river is wide & smooth & there were only six passengers on the boat so plenty of space. The sunset was pretty & it was completely dark when we arrived at 7 pm at the deserted boat quay.
We were quite fortunate as one of the couples on the boat was met by a local guide who was going to take them to their hotel. He was the campest guy you could ever meet but he insisted on taking us along & delivering us to our hotel, for $5. Well worth it.
A very nice family hotel where the owner helped us by booking a bus for tomorrow to take us on down the river to Can Tho. He also organised a couple of motorcycles with riders to take us back into to get some dinner. A fun tide but we did get a normal taxi afterwards to get back.