The Central Market in Phnom Penh, after a storm.

 

Rand always tells me he envies my palate, which cracks me up because it’s such an unlikely compliment. But it comes up time and again, whenever I identify a spice in a dish that he’s unable to, or I catch a whiff of a bakery blocks before he does. Others who’ve noticed it have commented as well, and I usually smile and tap the side of my ever-so-prominent nose and say, “It’s not just for show.”

Goodness, it really isn’t. Sometimes it feels like a superpower. I am the amazing girl WHO CAN SMELL EVERYTHING (note: superpower has very limited application. The X-Men aren’t calling, unless they need help determining whether or not the milk has gone bad).

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You guys …

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Barred windows at Tuol Sleng.

 

Note: I know the last few weeks haven’t been fun or light reading. Cambodian history isn’t fun or light. I appreciate you guys sticking with me while I’ve waded through it. This will be my last post focusing on the horrors of the Khmer Rouge. There is more to the country than this dark chapter. I just wanted to make sure I treated the topic with the gravity and attention it deserved. Tomorrow, I swear, I will post something that will make you smile.

After we went to Choeung Ek, we headed back to town, straight to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. We paid $2 for admission, and another $6 for a guide. His name was Samnang, and he was my age – born in 1980, just after the Vietnamese Army arrived and liberated the country from the Khmer Rouge. His parents had survived the KR labor camps.

“I don’t know how,” he said.

When he was a child, he explained that Phnom Penh had been a ghost town. It was only in recent years that people had started returning to the city. The Khmer Rouge had emptied it out within a week of taking power.

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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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