Note: Today’s post goes into detail about the brutality of the Khmer Rouge, and specifically what happened at the Killing Fields. There are also images of human remains (mostly bones and skulls) towards the end. I just wanted to let you know beforehand. Also, I’ve listed this under tourist attractions, because I guess it is, but that just feels … wrong.

It is an astoundingly beautiful and terrifying place.

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I am writing today about our hotel. Because I needed a break from the Khmer Rouge before launching into our visit The Killing Fields. Because I am a huge, whiny wimp.

The White Mansion Hotel in Phnom Penh is posh. It was by far the fanciest of the places at which we stayed during our trip.

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It’s funny (well, not funny, but you know – interesting) that even as I’m researching this stuff, I have trouble imagining how it happened. I saw first hand the aftermath of it, but some part of me still can’t wrap my head around it.

I guess I would just like to think that we live in a world where international organizations step in BEFORE genocide happens, but history has shown time and again that we don’t. A lot of the time, we just sit back and watch. When we do intervene, it’s usually for the wrong reasons. And sometimes our attempts just fail.

Still, it’s hard to look at the Khmer Rouge regime and not wonder: what the fuck were the rest of us doing? And … shit. I’ll get to it. But mostly, we first did a lot of nothing. Later, we’d help them out. Yeah. I know. I KNOW. It’s totally fucked up. Anyway, on to the decline of the Khmer Rouge. All the caveats I mentioned in earlier posts still stand. I’m an American. I’m not a historian. I tend to editorialize. 

Sign at Choeung Ek Genocidal Center.

 

By the second half of the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge had all of the Cambodia people in a vice. People would be dragged off to Tuol Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh, where they were interrogated and tortured, then sent to the Killing Fields, where they were murdered in all kinds of horrific and creative ways (the Khmer Rouge didn’t like to waste bullets on executions), and dumped into mass graves.

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I would like to take a moment to talk about durian.

I have to. I have spent the larger part of the morning working on a post about the Khmer Rouge, and I very much need a mental break, and talking about stinky fruit will allow for that to happen.

So. Durian.

The stuff is notorious, and you’ve probably heard of it. Miraculously, I somehow failed to take a photo of the inside of the fruit (I think I was hypnotized by the smell) but here is its exterior:

 

I like to think of the spikes as being Mother Nature’s subtle way of saying, “Get back. Seriously.”

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