Visiting Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was so heartbreaking I couldn’t grasp the atrocities humans can do to its fellow humans. It’s my first ever museum of this kind and I was totally devastated going around, reading one description to another. It just didn’t break my heart but also made me realize that, as a traveler, you have to prepare yourself in places like this.
I visited this museum back in September 2008 — and I wasn’t blogging then. I was very new in backpacking world and I relied too much in my. Though I’ve traveled solo anywhere in China (I lived there for 8 years), but my one month backpacking trip in Southeast Asia was my first real backpacking experience that brought me to Thailand (for the second time), Cambodia and Vietnam.
Siem Reap was my first stop in Cambodia. The long trip from Thailand’s border was one bumpy ride on a corrugated road where vehicles spew thick dusts that could cloak you into invisibility. Discovering Angkor Wat from sunrise to sunset was a really great experience. After three days, I took a bus to Phnom Penh. It was already dark when I arrived.
The first thing I did on my first day in Cambodia’s capital city was to visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. And boy, I was so wrong to be doing that first. Nothing prepared me for the emotional experience I had inside.
Warning: You might find some photos graphic
This is the facade of a building that used to be a High School. Pol Pot (Cambodia’s monstrous, evil leader) and his security forces turned it into Prison 21 (or S-21).
Right in front of the school is this torture post used to hang prisoners upside down. The two water vessels below are used to drown them before they’re lifted up.
Next to the torture pole is a billboard of Security Rules.
Thousands of prisoners from all walks of life were held here, including foreigners and Pol Pot’s cadres and ministers.
Most of the prisoners here were brought to the Killing Field, 15 kilometres from Phnom Penh.
Inside the museum are the real iron bars and chains used to torture the prisoners. Imagine yourself sleeping with someone side by side with your feet chained to these bars.
This photograph is displayed to remind people how brutal Pol Pot’s regime was. I wonder if the child on top is still alive.
The second floor was used at the cell for mass detention.
This bed is the real bed used to torture, not to comfort someone.
If this cushion could talk, what horror could it tell?
Here’s the list of people that were brought in S-21. It includes the day they were brought in, the day they died and the place they were buried.
Up until today, some are still missing and can’t be identified.
(winner of 3 Academy Awards)