I was surprised how relatively clean the city was compared to Saigon. And I was shocked with all the new development, mainly tall glass skyscrapers. I ran around the city to get money, apparently US dollars is preferred, which is odd and to see a doc for the toe. Saw penh hill and the Buddha site and ending the evening with a Quick, cheap 1 hr River boat ride to see the city landscape and slums across from it.
Next day the big highlight was the prison S21 and killing fields. I knew it was going to be intense and glad I visited and learned about this dark history even on Xmas eve. This is what I have gathered and it probably is not 100% accurate and of course has some holes.
The US in the 60s bombed parts of Cambodia (who was neutral) as part of a strategy against Vietnam. We also bombed parts of Laos, where people still suffer from loosing their limbs if they come across a weapon that didn't explode then.
From 1975-79, just two weeks before Vietnam won the war, an idealist communist, Pol Plot, unleashed hell to his own Cambodian people. After tricking and betraying them in to following him, Khmer Rouge overtook phnom phen.
Evacuated millions, walking for months without supplies in the heat, to neighboring towns that became slave camps. They worked 14 hrs a day in pior conditions to increase rice production to sell to China in exchange for guns.
Those too weak to walk were shot. Those educated and skilled were taken to a prison detention, formerly a highschool. Through torture techniques people admitted to being a spy because that's what the soldiers, made up of brainwashed village teenagers, wanted to hear. From weeks up to 6 months of torture. Their families were taken to avoid revenge seekers.
After false admission, their skulls were bashed to spare precious bullets. Babies were bashed against what's known as the killing tree. Sometimes tossed in the air and shot at. In front of their moms, who were sometimes rapped before their death. All tossed in to a mass grave pit.
This killing field is one of 300 plus. It had the most deaths of about 20,000. Later a memorial was built to house the skulls and some bones that were found.
Plot became paranoid and killed his own guards and their families. Attacked Vietnam because he bought they were going to attack. Vietnam attacked back and won; freeing what was left of the people. About 2 million died over 4 years.
For twenty years, plot with a dedicated army lived in the jungle and ran freely. The Cold War still gave him power. He never paid for his crimes; he died at 73. After the Cold War, the king came back to establish a new government in the early 90s. Some top soldiers are still at international courts.
The country is still poor and struggles to overcome the obstacles from the aftermath. Education is lacking. And sex trade is the new terror, even among the young. It just blows my mind how sick people are and how much people can suffer. There seems no end for this country.
Why is there a demand for watching kids in sexual situations? The trauma caused by this and the continue domino effect from any of these terrible actions is countless and seems endless. Why can't we solve these evils that we know exist?
Pix link for Phom penh https://goo.gl/photos/Xj5fJyeEXYuQ428j9
Pix link to S21 prison and killing fields https://goo.gl/photos/FNTnidPtrTNj6zfL8