Our second day in Phnom Penh was a little more somber than the first. I didn’t know much about the Khmer Rouge before we came here, other than that Pol Pot was the leader and killed thousands of people. To get a little more familiar with the history, we hired a tuk-tuk driver and set out to see the killing fields, about 15 KM out of town. That was where thousands of intellectuals, teachers, doctors, and basically anyone Pol Pot felt was a threat to his plan for a communist agrarian society were murdered.
I didn’t really feel right taking pictures. Pretty much all that remains now is a memorial filled with skulls of the victims, and a few empty mass graves. There’s also a small museum about the site and the Khmer Rouge.
Coming back into town, we saw a bakery and stopped to check it out. I knew that a carbohydrate overdose would cheer me up a little after the depressing morning.
I love bread.
Mike perused the case and we picked out some different filled pastries.
It was almost lunch time so we also got some amazing baguette sandwiches from the sandwich stand.
After that nice little detour, we got right back into Cambodia’s shockingly depressing history with a visit to the S-21 prison in Phnom Penh. This is where the Khmer Rouge kept prisoners before they were taken to the killing fields.
It used to be a high school, but in 1975 the Khmer Rouge moved everyone from the city to work camps in the country, closed schools, and got rid of money.
Some of the former classrooms on the ground floor now show photos of the prisoners.
Others were divided into tiny cells.
Seeing pictures and personal accounts by people who lived through the time of the Khmer Rouge was both interesting and horrifying. I just cannot imagine my family being forced to leave the city, split up and be sent to different work camps where even small children were forced to do manual labor all day and food was scarce.