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Arriving at 8am gave us enough time to catch a tuk tuk to the city centre, find $8 accommodation and hop on another tuk tuk to visit the Killing Fields which was about an hour away. This attraction was not the nicest to visit but it taught us the harsh reality of Cambodias past and suffering caused by the Khmer Rough (1975-1979). Dictator Pol Pot was the reason for the deaths of 3 million of his own kind. Sheds and other structures had been taken down but the graves where hundreds of men, women and babies had been dumped, bones and trees remained. One tree stood out amongst all the rest, it was covered in thousands of colourful wristbands in memory of the hundreds of babies that had been brutally killed against it.
Cornered off graves were also full of these wristbands and money. We were provided with a head set which gave us an insight of what occurred, songs used to mask the screams of the helpless and stories of those that lived and survived through this tragic time. As we walked around there were still bone remains surfacing through the soil and pieces of soiled clothes lying around.
We encountered a young girl and boy, probably under the age of ten, and an elderly man begging for money by a shack on the other side of the fence. They were dirty, bare footed with ripped clothing. Listening to the head set whilst seeing this was not a good combination, it’s just sad to see the poverty some people still live in. The tour ended at a glass tower containing hundreds of skulls and bones each separated and displayed on different levels. This had the largest impact on us as it quantified the extent of the genicide. It took us about two hours to listen to the entire recording and watch the short footage at the museum before we headed back to town.
We decided to spend the afternoon walking alongside the river bank and watching families feed pigeons on the grounds in front of Royal Palace.
On the way back to the hostel we walked through a local market selling fish, vegetables and meat. We watched women scaling fish, clobber large fish and one man bleeding out, boiling and defeathering a chicken ready for sale within 5 minutes! Even though it was sad to watch a live chicken end up in a plastic bag ready to be cooked, it was interesting to learn exactly how it is done locally and it was actually not disturbing to watch as it was done quickly and fairly humanely.
During the evening we enjoyed dinner at one of the river side restaurants which was one of the main touristic areas.
At 8am the following morning we were picked up at our hotel and started our four hour drive to Sihanoukville.