We had spent the night in Chau Doc, a Vietnamese city close to the border of Cambodia. The next morning we woke up early again (this trip really was a series of early mornings!) and caught a speed boat up the Mekong River that brought us across the border into Cambodia.
Here are some photos of early morning Chau Doc that I took while we were waiting for our boat to be ready.
When I say “speed boat” – that’s what everyone called it. But it wasn’t a James Bond style speed boat. It was more like a bus on the water with very little leg room and uncomfortable benches to sit on. The whole journey took six hours or so, so it wasn’t the best experience.
But we were rewarded upon our arrival in Phnom Penh with the wonderful views of the Royal Palace. The royal family has lived here since the mid 1800s and still does. Not bad!
The photo below shows a “stupa”, which is basically a buddhist grave. It contains ashes or relics – in this case it’s one of the prior king’s stupa.
Afterwards we went to see the Genocide Museum, which is in an old school that the Khmer Rouge regime had used as a prison. We had hardly gotten over the graphic images in the Vietnamese war museum and again we were standing in a place that exhibited photos of chained up prisoners at various stages of torture, torture instruments and a cupboard of 50 or more skulls of Khmer Rouge victims.
It made very clear what an awful history Cambodia has had – and it wasn’t even that long ago! Our guide said that pretty much every family in Cambodia was impacted by the Khmer Rouge regime and his own father had died in this prison.
I took a number of photos but I’ll only post the less shocking ones as it’s really quite difficult to see some of the things.
This is the school that was used as the prison. Most classrooms had additional brickwalls put in, creating tiny cells, one for each prisoner. The cells were too small for someone to lie down when stretched out.
Here’s a photos of a “VIP” prison cell which was much bigger and had a bed. The prisoners were chained to the bed. Most people only survived in this prison for about a month – they either died from torture or were brought to the Killing Fields to be killed there.
This is the outside of the prison. They fenced it off completely with barbed wire to prevent inmates from committing suicide by jumping out of the windows. We didn’t have enough time to also go and see the Killing Fields, where thousands and thousands of people died under the Khmer Rouge regime but I’m glad that we got to see the prison. As horrible and shocking as it was, I think it’s good to visit those kinds of sights and learn more about the history.