S-21 Tuol Sleng

So let’s recap here….

April 9-May 4, China travel in Beijing and Xian

May 4-May 22, South Korea travel, Seoul, Busan, Gyeong-Ju

May 22-June 20 (Today) Cambodia travel, Phnom Penh, Battambang, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

Currently, I am in a bungalow about 70 meters away from the ocean. It feels good to be by the salt air again, it always has been a natural environment for me, and I suspect it will continue to be so…

Cambodia thanks you for coming

It’s been almost a month since I’ve stayed in Cambodia, and the trip has been thoroughly enjoyed and experienced. I’ve traveled in a circle around the whole country, met some amazing people doing good works, made many new Cambodian friends, experienced an ancient history and a more recent history that had a severe effect of the people.

Tuol Sleng S-21. A place where lots of people were interrogated and killed during the Khmer Rouge rule from 1975-79.

One cannot come to Cambodia without knowing about the Khmer Rouge. The “Killing Fields” and the genocide that occurred post Vietnam war in the seventies in Cambodia are well known and are visited tourist sites in country. Estimates are about 1.7-2.5 million of the existing 8 million people at that time were killed or died of disease. It was a horrific time in the history of the people.

Coming to understand the truth of how such killings can take place is depressing, numbing and stirs up anger.

It is good though to see some of the sites that still exist today like Auschwitz and Tuol Sleng, because they reaffirm what we DO NOT want to see happen again.

Unfortunately, today there are people being tortured, being held against their will, having their rights taken away. We do what we can in our own power to prevent such injustices from happening, and to practice accountability and oversight.

Blood on the floor, 30 years later.

When in Cambodia, I talked to a good many people, but the Khmer Rouge period was hardly mentioned. While it is a time in history that affected the whole country, the Cambodians would rather forget that period happened. I don’t blame them, many people died and those that survived were psychologically affected. Maybe that’s why Cambodians love to watch horror films here so much.

Some people have yet to be tried, and some are being tried finally after years of still living. There are still Khmer Rouge in the current Cambodian government. They are proposing making an amusement park next to Pol Pots grave, for “tourism.” Pol Pot was the driving force behind the Khmer Rouge. I say Screw that.

It’s a downer post I know, but it had to be written sometime.

Cambodia has been wonderful to visit. There is much happening here, and there is hope for the future development of this nation. More and more people are becoming educated in the arts, sciences, business and hopefully will use these skills for more than just providing for their own way of life, which is very easy to fall into here. Corruption wafts around…Especially the 4 x 4 Lexus vehicles one sees around town…

But besides all the corruption that exists in this country, there is a friendliness that is bestowed to the foreigner. Whether it be genuine or not, it is given and I have struck up good conversations with many Taxi tuk tuk drivers, restaurant workers, business owners, internet cafe employees, guesthouse keepers, merchants of the markets and youth and children. If you come to Cambodia, it won’t be difficult to get around and be given assistance into what you need.

I’m leaving the country in a couple of days, Thailand calls and it shall be a good time I imagine. Already I have prepared to stay at the best Hilton in Bangkok for a couple of nights thanks to my acquired hotel points stays. I’ll text you while I’m in the pool 70 floors up in the air.

Cheers!

Shawn

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