Royal Palace, National Museum and Genocide

Today was an interesting day…. It started out nice and “happy”, ending in a depressing manner…. Here’s what I saw….

Royal Palace (pictures here): there is a king of Cambodia and he still lives in the Royal Palace. It is located where four rivers join and has views of everything. It glitters and has everything that a palace should…. I really enjoyed the Silver Pagoda. It’s floor is covered with over 5000 sterling silver tiles that are over 1Kg each… stunning!

National Museum (link above): Not as impressive as the Met or the Louvre, but totally awesome in it’s own right! It houses some fabulous pieces most are from Angkor Wat, and some are from way before…. Beautiful! Unfortunately they don’t allow pictures inside and of the artifacts, so there are only a couple of pictures of the courtyard. One thing that is interesting is the lack of maintenance… I mean I am glad that the artifacts are stone and not paintings for example, ’cause it’s open… no windows, climate control, etc. The only thing that doesn’t get to the artwork is rain :o). But in a developing country money is often spent better elsewhere :o)….

Genocide (pictures here): We went to see S21 which is the prison that housed and tortured folks before sending them to a mass grave just outside of town. This what us westerners know as “The Killing Fields”. It was totally gruesome to see this. I have been to holocaust museums and this is just as disturbing…. Close to 9000 people went through S21 and a total of 7 lived to tell the tale. I could write tons about the thoughts and emotions that run through your head as you look at these atrocities, but there just isn’t enough time/space…. Then we went about 15 Km out of town to see where everyone from S21 was taken to be killed and buries in mass graves. Again, totally disturbing. They have built a huge stuppa with bones that they have found. But what is even more grotesquely disturbing is that you walk around the site and see where they have exhumed the bodies from the graves. The graves that have been excavated kind of look like large, deep sand traps, but without the sand or the golf course. They are literally feet apart from each other (and they have excavated dozens). As you are walking, you notice that there are theses scraps of something on the ground every so often… then you realize that it’s some form of cloth. Then it hits you as you walk a couple more feet and notice a pile of something… it’s old clothing and bones that you are seeing still strewn on the ground. Not a polite way to treat humans or the dead! If you look at the pictures, you will see a pile of ’em. And don’t forget to read the sign by the tree where they used to beat babies against (they would just swing ’em against the tree) and then drop them into a nearby mass grave….

So there you have it. As you can see a totally interesting and yet depressing day. Came back to the hotel and needed a drink after this one (i had a couple actually and am going to have a cigar after dinner too).