From killing fields to playing fields

The swimming pool may be a bit cold, but we all jumped in this morning (all except Aisha that is, who since Pai refuses to go in anything colder than a hot spring). The kids did some much overdue homework while the adults did some much overdue planning. Good hotels get fully booked and flights go up in price if you leave it too late. We decided on a route which takes us down to the beach first, then up to Angkor Wat, and then slowly back to the capital and from there to Vietnam by road.

Apart from Angkor Wat Cambodia is famous for the Khmer Rouge and their reign of terror (1975-1979). No visit is complete without witnessing at least something of this ugly past. This afternoon we went to see the Tuol Sleng museum, once a high school but converted in 1975 into an interrogation centre and security prison known simply as S.21 which became the main stepping stone for detainees en route to the killing fields just out of town. It is quite shocking and sad to see (I saw a young backpacker in tears sitting down in the corner on our way in), with stark rooms, makeshift cells and black and white photographs of many of the victims (the Khmer Rouge recorded most of their atrocities). Still, the photos were blurry enough (and we avoided some rooms) for Lucas to not really notice what was going on. We tried to explain it a bit to him so he got the main gist of the jail: the war, the baddies killing the goodies until the baddies lost... On the way out we saw one of the few survivors who was there signing his book about the ordeal.

After that we decided to go to the walkway next to the river, but when we were nearly there the kids saw a massive playground. Cambodia may be poorer, but there are more things for the kids: public playgrounds, people selling balloons, popcorn machines... Had a lovely time until Lucas fell yet again on his knee. I think for tomorrow we'll put a bandage on it.

Walked back from where we were - quite nice once the sun has gone down, even carrying 2 children. Most of the way is a massive boulevard which makes a nice change from walking in the street (pavements are narrow and generally overrun with parked cars and motorcycles). Spoilt ourselves with a nice bottle of red for dinner (Cambodia was a French colony), lovely after all that beer.

Lesson learnt today: in Cambodia lunch at most restaurants finishes at 14:00 sharp.

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