Monday was an early start to travel to Phnom Penh. In the afternoon we were given a guided tour of Tuol Sleng Museum. It used to be a school until the Khmer Rouge took over and turned it into Security Prison 21. It was a pretty depressing place, the classrooms had been used as cells and the play area had been used to torture prisoners. Pictures of the prisoners were on display as well as instruments used to torture them. Next on our tour was the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. This is where the prisoners of S21 were sent to be executed and buried. In 1998, a monument was built that houses 8000 skulls of the victims. The ground around it is still full of holes from where the skeletons were excavated. The Khmer Rouge even played loud music to cover up the screms of the dying people. All this happened between 1975 and 1978, not that long before I was born, which is a bit of a scary thought. Everyone was really quiet on the journay back to the hotel,it was hard to take in all the pain and suffering that the Cambodian people went through. It is estimated that 2 million people, a quarter of the population, died under the rein of the Khmer Rouge.
More culture followed on Tuesday. I decided to go it alone and visit the Royal Palace and the National Museum. The museum is full of artifacts that have been removed from the temples, loads and loads of stone Buddhas. The only let down was that no one could find the one thing we were looking for, the sculpture of the fighting monkeys. In the afternoon I went to the Russian Market, which was so huge I actually got lost. There are hundreds of stalls all piled really high with stock. I managed to haggle and get a couple of tshirts for a pound each.