We headed out early this morning and were going to visit the zoo in Takeo Province but decided to spend more time in Phnom Penh City, visiting Sak's Uncle for lunch and then paying a visit to Tuol Sleng S-21 Genocide Museum.
Sak has not visited S-21 since the mid-1980's (shortly after it was turned into a museum) and I knew the visit was going to be very difficult for him. He became very upset shortly after we arrived and I felt helpless to comfort him. I gave him time to walk around on his own and I sat outside the old school buildings and just took everything in. Craig & I had visited S-21 in November and I just wanted to revisit to sit and reflect. It is such a haunting place - especially when you see the torture instruments, the old beds & cells where people were chained, and the horrendous stains on the floors.
Although I will never be able to understand what Sak and millions of others went through, I certainly felt a little of the pain he must have been experiencing purely through the look in his eyes. We spent about 2 hours there and after a while Sak came to find me and took me to see some of the photographs of children digging fields and reservoirs, all of them skinny, starving, with ragged clothes - he explained that this was exactly what he had to do during the KR regime and the images also showed how he looked at the time (see above photo). He told me that he was a weak child and frequently tried to escape, considering himself not as strong as many of the other children. He tells me he is not strong, even now, but I told him that he is very much the opposite - he is one of the strongest men I know - having come through the KR regime, the suffering during that time and for two decades after, to today when he has a new home, a beautiful wife, four gorgeous children, and a job with an NGO which he enjoys immensely. I told him that strength is not necessarily physical....
Tonight we sought out an Indian restaurant (which I explained to Sak was typical English food!) called 'Royal India' located on Street 111. It was a nice little place - nothing plush, just bare tables and a TV showing hilarious Bollywood movies, but the food was really nice and very cheap. My chicken tikka masala curry + rice cost £2! The restaurant has been around for almost a decade and, understandably, has a very loyal following.
K'ynom tuk niert! xx