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Cambodia: Phnom Penh

Blind Massage and Tuol Sleng

sunny 36 °C

Tiring of the chaotic cities I decide to stay only a short while in Phnom Pehn. The infestation of mopeds has clearly spread to Cambodia too, and the beeping of horns tormented me once more. Luckily I could find solace in the swimming pool at my hostel/hotel. It was small but satisfying after trudging around the city in the hellish heat.

After reading so much about the traditional 'healing hands' of the Blind Masseurs of Cambodia, I decide to let a massaging 'magician' mould my body back into shape. Unfortunately the 'magician' must have had a day off, as the lady I received a massage from simply poked and prodded me. Not to be rude I tipped as the project is a great cause, giving Cambodian people who are blind an opportunity to live a normal life.

On Monday I took a long (and exhausting) walk, (determined to get some exercise) to Tuol Sleng Museum. The former High School was taken over by Pol Pot's security forces in 1975 and used as a prison to torture and kill Cambodian victims. Rows and rows of photos documented the victims, mug shots taken as they entered the prison. The once classrooms were turned into cells/chambers, with barb wire surrounding the exits preventing as form of escape. What was once climbing apparatus for the school children to exercise on became a mechanism for torture- used to hang prisoners upside down until they became unconscious, followed by dunking the prisoner's head in cold water, painfully bringing them back to consciousness.

The building seemed to be left virtually as it was when it was used as a prison. The 'class rooms' displayed a metal frame bed in the middle of the room, a metal shackle and sometimes a black and white picture of a deceased victim, as they had been found. Room after room the same...victim after victim, the same.

Little information was written in displays, but little was needed. You didn't need to be told in much detail what went on here. The walls of the 'class rooms' held all the stories...if only they could talk.

Posted by Melanie Kidd 03:11 Archived in Cambodia

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