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Published: March 17th 2014
FYI US plugs throughout
All hotels and La Marguerite had plugs for low wattage items like cell phones and computers.
This morning we took a tour of the Presidential palace and grounds. It is a gorgeous place in the center of Phnom Penh. The president was in residence, so his residence was off limits, but the rest of the buildings, formal meeting places, temples, burial spaces, opulent and gilded were gorgeous. We went back to the ship with a short stop at Artisans d'Angkor, and VERY HIGH QUALITY silk and art store, here and in Siem Reap, which I somehow missed there. The prices reflect the exceptional quality of their items, but it was the best shopping of all the places in both Cambodia and Vietnam that we visited. I have bought a couple of things online since I returned and they have arrived with no delay and in perfect condition. I walked back to the ship alone from their store with my treasures, and after a lovely lunch onboard and some ice cream from the little spot on the pier, headed out for our afternoon excursion.
It's Halloween today. I may never look at skeletons as Halloween costumes ever again. The excursion to the Killing Fields and War Museum was intense. We drove up and there was a temple
Pagoda at Killing Fields
Looked like any other at first.
in the middle, like the rest of the temples, a tall monument. As we drew nearer, I realized the glass walls were filled with skulls! These were the skulls found buried in the area around this particular "killing field." It was one of many of the Pol Pot Regime's places where they took dissidents, people whose crimes were that they were intelligent - doctors, lawyers, teachers, anyone who wasn't a farmer was executed, as was anyone who was unwilling to give everything they owned to the Communist Regime. They were systematically marched out to fields and shot, but in many cases, to save ammunition, beat with a club. There is a tree where babies and children were beaten against the tree to kill them. Everywhere around this area, families have left bracelets in honor of their relatives who died here. From there we went to the Tuol Sleng S21 Genocide Prison, where we learned how prisoners were interrogated by torture, and when they confessed to things they never did, were killed to make room for more prisoners. We met a survivor of the prison who was one of 12 held there the day the US troops came in and freed
Many of us cried here.
the prisoners. This day changed me. I don't know how the Cambodian people can be so happy and positive despite all they have been through in their lives. Our guide Savon, in Siem Reap said, "My grandmother said you can't look back, you must only look forward, there is where your happiness lies." In spite of this genocide taking place as recently as 1994, here is this happy and contented people living with little, but improving their lives with our help, by tourism, and by buying Cambodian products. I for one look for the Cambodian label!
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