Number 9 Guest House

Number 9 View

September 2, 2001 (16-days)

Sua s'dei (sose die),

My brief 9-day visit to Cambodia was action packed.  I focused on the Cambodian Genocide and the temples of Angkor.

It started with a rough ride from the border of Vietnam to Phnom Penh.  The bus bumped and swerved the entire distance, which confirmed the reputation of the worst roads in Asia.

In Phnom Penh, I stayed at the Number 9 Guest House, which was right on the lake.  It has a pool table, movies, great food, and the atmosphere of a fishing village.  The deck was surrounded with tons of lotus flowers.

On my second day, I went to Security Prison 21 (S-21) and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.

A little history refresher...  From 1975 to 1978 the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot's command attempted to create a peasant society of farmers by forcing people into the countryside and by killing the educated people.  They feared having their government overthrown by anyone they perceived as a threat.

As a result, the children of Cambodia, age 10-15, were given the title of guards and trained to  torture and kill their own people.  The prisoners were generally tortured from 2 to 4 months in S-21 before being beaten to death at the Killing Fields, which saved bullets.  There were 2 to 3 million deaths.  A few were Australian, French and American. 

During this period, the use of money and the postal service were nonexistent.  Cambodia was cut off from the outside world. 

It's hard to believe such a cruel and inhumane act happened in my life time.  Even scarier, I fit the age requirement for being a guard.

Today, people who were guards, are living in villages next to former prisoners.  The people of Cambodia want to put the past behind, but a possible trial is brewing.

On a lighter level, back on the streets, I saw two Cambodian's wearing Santa hats, one was a baby.  Funny, I don't think they know what it is.

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