However, my hostel, Aura, was kinda of cute. It had "themed rooms," a rooftop bar at night and decent design. I was in a 6 bed female share dorm with a Lily theme, which means one wall was covered in a huge picture of a flower and there was a vase with two plastic lilies in it on the single table. Could have used a bathmat. It was cute and clean and a bit off the beaten path which made is quieter and made me get a bit more exercise.
Pol Pot & the Khmer Rouge Genocide
During my second afternoon, which was a Thursday and happened to be Thanksgiving Day in the States, I visited Pol Pot's infamous killing fields and S21 prison with my Aussie friend Jayme.
We watched a documentary on our air conned bus during the drive to The Choeung Ek Genocidal Center and paid $3 upon arrival for the audio tour, which was well worth the cost. I think its much more respectful to listen quietly to narration about the atrocities that took place here, rather than have a tour guide shouting about it to you. This was only one of over 300 killing fields around the country where Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge murdered innocent people using farm tools and rather primitive weapons because bullets were too expensive.
The tour started by describing some of the structures that used to be there like the truck stop, the detention hall and a chemical substances storage room. Next to a lake you can stop and listen to a variety of survivor stories, each more gruesome than the next. Then you continue along the path to some mass graves, next to which are glass boxes containing cloth, bones and teeth from victims that surface during heavy rains. There's also the killing tree, where soldiers would execute babies and children by smashing them against the trunk. The tree and the fences surrounding the mass grave sites are covered in bracelets, like a kind of makeshift memorial, to which I added a bracelet of my own.
Being Thanksgiving and all, I was missing friends and family back home but I am incredibly thankful for this journey and all the wonderful people I've met and many lessons I've learned along the way. I'm also thankful for the lifestyle I am able to enjoy at home because I've seen first hand that most people around the world don't enjoy the same freedoms and luxuries that we so often take for granted, like you know, not being murdered by a crazy, genocidal dictator. My next thoughts revolved around the fact that we as humans are slow learners because genocide like this has happened again since then and is still happening today. I wonder if - in 40 years - tourists will be flocking to visit museums and mass graves in Syria, Africa and North Korea.