Our First Impressions of Cambodia was that we love it! Everyone seemed so much friendlier and our first meal there was lovely. Unfortunately, I had a migraine and was unwell so we didn’t stay out for long and got an early night.
We woke up early and booked with our hotel a tuk-tuk tour which took us to the Tuol Sleng Genocide museum and then the killing fields. We paid $18 for 2 of us which seemed to be about the ‘normal going’ rate – never pay any more than $20 from the city to these attractions.
Just the tuk-tuk alone was great fun – we entertained ourselves during the journey by playing ‘yellow tuk-tuk’ instead of yellow car, and I’ve since learnt that I need to work on my reactions! Always be careful when travelling around in tuk-tuks because obnoxious individuals are renowned for driving past on their mopeds and stealing your belongings, so just hold onto them tightly and be aware of your surroundings all the time – and then everything will be fine!
We went to the museum first which was around a 20-minute journey and there’s only so much we can say about this, as I’m sure you can imagine some horrific crimes took place here and it is very traumatic, yet eye-opening. The torture houses were once a school, where they used some of the school equipment to torture people. Between 1975- 1979 many innocent men, women, children and even babies were horrifically tortured, treated like animals and locked in ‘cages’.
At the end of the tour, we were fortunate enough to meet a survivor and at that moment we realised that we are not grateful enough for the ‘luxury’ life we lead. It truly made us realise that you should always appreciate life and remember that no matter how bad a stage of your life may seem, it is nothing compared to what happened to these poor innocent people went through many years ago.
We opted for an audio tour which was $6 per person – we would definitely recommend doing this because you find out a lot more information rather than just walking around and looking at the information boards. We had finished our emotional visit at the museum and met our tuk-tuk driver where we drove for another 30 minutes and arrived at the killing fields.
I would definitely suggest going to the Sleng Genocide Museum first and then the killing fields afterwards. The Killing Fields are where the innocent population were taken from S-21 (the prison/torture house) where they were due to be murdered in a horrific way. There was one part which we found especially moving which they now called the killing tree. This was where young children would have their heads smashed against it until they died.
One part of the killing fields there is a building where we could see the skulls of only a handful of people that had tragically died, we could see the different ways that they had died e.g. shot, stabbed, skulls crushed etc.
We could not begin to imagine the horrendous crimes committed to these poor people – it was incredibly interesting and again, we would 100% recommend visiting. As we had already paid out for an audio tour that day we decided we would just walk around the killing fields so we only had to pay $3 pp for the entrance fee. After seeing more than enough for the day, we agreed that we would head back to the hostel. We got back, got ready and wandered around for somewhere to eat. We discovered that Cambodia seemed to be more expensive, but the food quality was a lot nicer. After having some food, we found a bar and went for some drinks as a way of settling ourselves into Cambodia (any excuse for a drink really!) We had a great night and got talking to some more people. We continued our evening playing pool and chatting to the people we had met until it was time to call it a night.