Friday, May 28, 2010

Day in Phnom Penh

We visited S-21 (the Khmer Rouge interrogation facility in central Phnom Penh). And, we visited the Killing Fields 15 km south of town. It's hard to explain in Virginia the real horror of the whole thing. It has real impact standing next to the gallows or next to a pit where 100 headless people were found. The stupa at the Killing Fields contains 8,000 skulls of the 3,000,000 murdered by the Pol Pot Khmer Rouge regime. It's hard to understand. At S 21 there are pictures of the victims who were beaten and tortured before being murdered at the Killing Fields. I was glad to share that with the students and to talk them through the history of this event. They did not enjoy this at all, but it's important for responsible citizens of this world to bear witness and to understand. Some major learning occurred today, By the way, I didn't like it either, it makes me sad and angry at the same time.

We saw the royal palace area and all its splendor. Great temples, great gardens, wonderful art.

On a happier note everyone enjoyed some sweaty shopping in the Russian Market and an equally sweaty lunch there. Tonight has been quiet as everybody gears up for a 6 hour bus ride to Ho Chi Minh City.

Tomorrow upon arrival we will visit the War Remembrance Museum which portrays American soldiers as murderers and killers as terrible as Pol Pot. It's largely rubbish but the good news is that the average Vietnamese citizen likes and Americans and younger folks don't have a memory of the Vietnam war in the same way that American young people have no connection to that event either. Our students will get connected.

We've had a couple of upset stomachs, heat rash, prickley heat, etc., but overall everybody is just fine. The travel here is hot and requires patience so it tends to wear everybody down.

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