Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum - Pol Pot - The Killing Fields

Viewer discretion advised... the following images are of disturbing content relating to the mass genocide of the Cambodian people. If you don't know the history behind this, I encourage you to read about Pol Pot here and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum here.

I am not sure where to begin, so many emotions have been stirred up its hard to put into words. We visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, which is one of the detention centers where pol pot tortured and killed thousands of men, women, and children. I have been to several Holocaust museums but this one by far was more raw in nature and much harder to swallow. The building was originally a school with 3 buildings and 3 floors each. Each one had a different purpose, some for holding space and some with other obvious horrors in mind. The first building has the torturing rooms which were used right up until the Khmer Rouge fell, literally with fresh bodies still chained to the beds. They took photos of the final 14 bodies left, put it in the room in which they were killed and kept the rooms in close conditions to what it had looked like at the time of death. It was so raw and realistic that you could almost smell them. I did everything I could to keep it together as we walked through such a graphic point in history, and even going back and preparing the photos tears were shed. The photos I included are the mild PG-13 ones I thought were suitable to share.

The second part of day we visited "Choeung Ek Memorial" (more commonly called the killing fields). This was a mass grave where they placed about 9,000 bodies after they were tortured and a second site for their brutal acts. Here they murdered children by picking them up by their feet and bashing their heads by swinging them into the side of a tree. They hung up a loud speaker which blared propaganda to drown out the screaming of those being tortured. They have only excavated 10% of the grounds. As you walk you will see clothing and bones sticking up in the dirt beneath your feet. It was beyond heart wrenching.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cambodia Orphanage

Sorry for the delay on the posting :)
We are now with the rest of the group in Phnom Phen Cambodia... After everyone has recovered from jet lag and their night spent in the Bangkok airport, we have gotten to see a thing or two. Yesterday we visited a large children's home (orphanage). There were about 70 kids from ages 2-17. The moment the gate door swung open the children swarmed us all latching onto us and hugging us and asking us questions. One little girl held on to me for at least 20 minutes, begging for as much affection as I could give. I was overwhelmed with compassion. It effected me much more then I could have imaged. They had so much love to give. Each one was so excited to show us where they sleep and their tiny little school rooms. The children were so beautiful, and I would have done anything to take a few home with us!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Khao Sak National Park

The past few days have been amazing. I had no idea Khao Sok would be this beautiful! It is the Lake Powell of Asia. We hired a boat and went for an evening cruise on the lake. It is a bit like Guilin China, Halong Bay in Vietnam, and as large as the Milford Sound in New Zealand. The coolest part is that we hung out with some Thai people on holiday camping out on these little raft huts in the middle of the lake. If we had more time we would have totally joined them! I couldn't have imagined a more perfect Valentine's day :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blaine and I have traveled down south to Phuket for a few days. Tomorrow we go to Khao Sok national park for some trekking and jungle exploration, but before that I will catch you up on the past few days. I am usually not a big fan of huge cities, but its always fun if there is a festival going on. We just happened to be in town for the annual macha bucha holiday, which is a commemoration of when Buddha preached to thousands of people that just appeared without summoning. At sunset the people went to the temples, lit candles, incense and walked with flowers around the outside of the various watts. It made for some interesting pics

I have loads more photos of the red light district, but most are not appropriate for all audiences so here is just a backed out shot of the street. It is amazing what people will do in plain view.

The Floating Market is a top thing to see in Bangkok, though it is a 2 hour bus ride outside the city.

After heading south, it is amazing how much things change with a little sun and sand. The moment we got off the bus, we rented a scooter and started exploring. The local Thai people would drive up next to us and say "where u go now?" just making sure we knew our way... which of course we did not :)