Saturday, 13 February 2016

A RETURN trip to The Killing Fields (It was a one-way journey for 1.4 Million Cambodians)

The fact that the location of The Killing Fields is only an hour bicycle ride away from my hotel in the centre of Phnom Penh freaks me out.  HOW can you kill that many people right next to big city????

What does one  take on a journey to a place where 1.4 Million Cambodians were  destroyed over a 4 year period?  A tough skin and enough Kleenex?  I have neither but I will find out what it takes soon.

Gotta love a country that has Plumeria trees ;-)
 The journey is strenuous.
 Cambodian Child Safety Seat.
14 km each way under the singeing sun while inhaling the road dust thrown up by the myriad of scooters, Tuk-Tuks and cars on paved roads or dirt roads through garbage dumps.

A school !
In the end I make it. I go to a store to buy cookies and a bottle of Fanta, which I pour into me that very moment.  On the way to the site,  3 or 4 year  old boys and girls ask for $1 bills. I give them my chocolate cookies and they're happy.  Some western passer-by says "You are kind".  Am I really?  What does that have to do with kindness anyway.  I have candy and there are children around.  Seeing those eyes light up is that kind of joy that you can NOT buy in any car dealership or fashion house !!!!

NO. There is no bicycle parking.  On the entire way here, I encountered a few Cambodians on bikes, mostly children, but not a single Westerner.

I am the only one.

Why exactly did I take the bicycle here? 

Sure, exercise & sun tanning played a role. But something  deep in my subconscious also told me that there is something fundamentally WRONG with witnessing the abysmal misery of people but wanting to do it in an excess of decadent comfort that money can buy here.  I guess not many people thing that way (read the flyer).

What did it take for a person to be thrown in prison and end up here? Not much.  Speaking a foreign language. Being a teacher or engineer. Wearing eyeglasses. Knowing better than your superior.  The author of this blog would have been sure to end up here.

Pol Pot's motto was "Better to kill an innocent by accident, than to let an enemy of the state escape by accident".

 The ground works and to this date releases bones and shreds of clothing of the victims.

The  self-guided audio tour consists of 20 stops. 

At stop 10 or 11 I rip the headphones off my head. 

I will not recount what made me unable to listen to any more of the narration at this early stage.
 It's one of those things.
The horror of this place is something that can not be expressed in words or pictures.  I'm not sure it should be even if it could be.

You just have to come here yourself.
These people deserve it.

When I get closer to the hotel I have to stop the bike tour more and more often and I can barely walk. 
I get back to the hotel and lock the bike to a tree and peruse the restaurants along the promenade for sustenance.  Outdoor on the 6th floor overlooking the Mekong? Done. Only when I study the writings inside the elevator do I realize that this is the hotel that I'm moving to tomorrow ;-)  

The view from the terrace is spectacular. A  nice breeze in combination with stracciatella ice cream, a glass of Rose, and a freshly squeezed orange juice bring me back to life ;-) BTW, how DARE they label the stuff in bottles in supermarket "freshly squeezed Orange Juice"??? Have consumers become THAT retarded?

 Two shopping trips in the late afternoon yield manifold  bounty.  

WHAT is the name of this restaurant????
A bottle of Rose, a wireless computer mouse (one of the reasons I'm so behind with this blog is that the touch-pad is a joke), yogurt, noodle soup, incense sticks, Gummy Bears, and the list goes on.

I return the bike and the lock, do sink laundry (the hotel wants  US$ 1.50 for one long-sleeved shirt; CRAZY;  in this climate a shirt washed in the sink and hung on the balcony is dry in 2 hours). 

I also find a street full of silver stores; with gorgeous cuff bracelets at decent prices (just mention a much lower price and they start saying "I discount for you"). It will  be worth taking a trip there again tomorrow (it's just behind my hotel ;-).

I head back to the pink elephant restaurant. True, the absence of my two dinner companions of the last two nights and my new computer mouse do wonders for finally finishing another blog post.  But somehow eating alone affects the sense of food taste and leaves one feeling empty.  Having visited the killing fields probably doesn't help my mood either.

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