These were use to lay out their victims for torture. The regime kept meticulous records, so there are very sad
mug shots of hundreds of the prisoners wearing old baggage labels with numbers. The women have all got the same
hair cut and hair clip and some of the men who had no top on had the label pinned directly on to their skin. The
prison was mainly run by kids recruited from the ages of ten to fifteen. With no moral guidance they grew up
particularly cruel. They killed anyone with an education, anyone who was part of the old regime, school teachers,
doctors etc. They also killed all their families including babies. As I said before there are very few people here
above the ages of about 35.
Although the city is beautiful, laid back and peaceful the thing that grates is that as a Westerner you are in
no position to be anonymous. There are many victims in the city of landmines with horrific injuries who are begging
on the streets. There are hundreds of kids begging for organised gangs some as young as five holding younger siblings
begging late into the night. I would say though we are very glad we visited and would recommend anyone to see Phnom Penh
if visiting this part of Asia.
We are flying out to Siem Reap at 4.00pm today.
Journal Update 23rd July 2004
We are having some early starts, which is making lazy Joe grumble more than ever. I have to sedate him with an
Angkor beer around 11.00 am to settle him down a bit. We have a 5.00 am start tomorrow to catch the sunset at Angkor Wat
(which should be pretty spectacular). Today we chartered a very cute tuk tuk, which they call a Remorque-moto. It is
a carriage pulled along by a motorbike with little pink curtains, which Joe liked a lot. Waving at everyone like the
Today we decided we have become proper travellers as our dress has become decidedly combat. The current vogue
for the jungle in Cambodia is green combat trousers, army boots and a handbag that looks like a flak jacket. We
were just about the only people at Angkor Wat this morning as the weather had been appalling with about
6 inches of rain falling last night. The water was rising up the steps of our hotel and we were contemplating
emergency rescue to Bangkok. We had a great meal in a place called Cafe Indochine of vegetable coconut curry,
shrimp fritters, Vietnamese spring rolls and morning glory as we watched the town drive by on their Hondas in
their plastic mackintoshes through the torrents of water.
Angkor Wat is spectacular, you see it in books and on TV and in Lara Croft Tomb Raider but absolutely
nothing can prepare you for its sheer beauty and scale. The sounds of crickets, geckos, monks chanting in the
distance and whooping monkeys adds to a very hypnotic magical atmosphere. After exploring Angkor Wat we travelled
to the old city of Angkor Thom, The Bayon was particularly ace as from the distance it just looks like rubble but
as you move closer you see hundreds of strange smiling faces carved in to the sand stones.
From there we visited Ta Prohm which has been left just as it was found in the early 19th century, reclaimed
by the jungle with huge, magnificent tree roots intertwined through the crumbling temple ruins. I had a spooky
experience with a very old nun who scared the willies out of me, as she was lurking in one of the temples burning
incense. Joe is a total sucker for an old lady so he gave her a dollar for a Buddhist charm, which he has put away
with all the catholic charms we are currently carrying (we think it is best to cover all eventualities and religions!).
Journal Update 26th Jul 2004 / Siem Reap Angkor Wat, Cambodia
We have been making the most of our 3 day pass to Angkor with sunrise at Angkor Wat and sunset on a hillside over
looking Angkor. We had a major treat and rode up the steep hill on an elephant. Half way up the hill the elephant
driver swapped places with Joe and Joe jumped on the elephant's neck and steered it triumphantly up the hill until
the elephant decided enough was enough and a hill-side snack was needed. So in to the bushes we went just as it
began to rain, in other words Joe crashed an elephant! As Joe spoke no Khmer, it wasn't really surprising and the
elephant didn't understand cockney Essex. The elephant was lovely and had a very good hair cut and very big ears.
Joe has now decided his next career move is to be an elephant trainer (though I can't think there are that many
job opportunities in this area in England!).
It is quite precarious riding on an elephant, after the initial difficulty of climbing aboard you have to content
with the swinging motion of the elephant as it enthusiastically climbs up the steep hill side. I am black and blue
all over, but it was worth it. We have met some fantastic people in Cambodia and we would recommend this destination