Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Phnom Penh Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh (PP) is the Capital of Cambodia, a city of around 2 million people. It's a pretty city - I love the architecture, a wonderful mix of traditional and modern.

The central city area is quite modern and caters well to Western Tourists. The outer suburbs are more typical of any SE Asian city.

There is a nice area along the river where you can get a good variety of Western food. I found PP to offer a much wider variety and generally more authentic Western cuisine than HCMC.

Cambodia has a grim past. Most of you will have heard of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge was the Communist Revolutionary army led by Pol Pot from 1963 - 1981.

The Cambodian Genocide was committed by Pol Pot and his guerilla army of teenagers - they killed around 25% of their own people, many for the egregious crimes of having soft hands, wearing glasses, being educated, being a teacher, being wealthy, being foreign and other "crimes".

Pol Pot was a Marxist-Lenninist who was attracted to communism in France in the 1950s. Pol Pot came from a wealthy, educated background - he was in fact a teacher himself.

His acts were some of the most horrific and degenerate I have ever heard of.

These atrocities have been meticulously and as tastefully as possible (considering the subject matter) restored/maintained in two main places - Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and The Killing Fields.


This is the entrance to Toul Slang Genocide Museum. Originally a secondary school, Pol Pot converted it into a torture compound and prison.

The Cambodian authorities have meticulously restored/maintained this compound and today it is a very popular, although somber, tourist attraction.

You can (and really should) hire headsets which will take you on a guided tour of the museum.

It takes about 2 hours but if you're like me, you'll need a coffee break after the 1st hour. I couldn't take it for more than an hour.


The Killing Fields are on the outskirts of PP. This was a popular place for executions by Pol Pot and his band of guerilla killers, most of whom were teenagers.

Again, it is about a 2 hour tour, headsets again available and recommended. Whilst from, I found it less traumatic than Toul Sleng, until the last section.

The 17 storey tower that you see in the photo above is full of skulls - 17 storey of them.

Each skull has been forensically examined and the cause of death marked by a small coloured dot. Shooting (not too many, bullets cost money), blunt force trauma, knife, machete etc.

The deep emotional force of this display left us shocked. The hour long trip home was mainly in silence, both of us in deep thought.


Although it wouñds macabre I am so glad I did these tours. They are at the same time the most fascinating and depressing "tourist attractions" I have ever been too. They are also the 2 tourists attractions I will never forget.

They are a profound warning to those attracted to the egalitarian ideals of communism taken to their extreme limit.


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