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the dark history of cambodia's khmer rouge prison

A trip to Cambodia can be an emotional churn. The country still has reminders of the atrocities of the cruel Pol Pot regime scattered across the country’s landscape.

In this blog, I will share with you my experience visiting the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The museum is a powerful and emotional reminder of the atrocities that occurred in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s.

As I entered the museum, I was struck by the eerie silence that permeated the halls. The museum is housed in a former high school that was transformed into a prison and interrogation center by the Khmer Rouge. The stark white walls and barred windows of the classrooms were a stark reminder of the horrors that took place within them.

The museum is filled with exhibits documenting the genocide, including photographs, artifacts, and personal accounts from survivors. One of the most powerful exhibits was a wall filled with the photographs of the prisoners who were held at the prison. As I looked at the faces staring back at me, I could not help but feel a sense of sadness and horror at the suffering that they endured. While the photographs of all these souls who endured such evils evokes extreme sadness, the proof of the hatred Pol Pot and his met evoked was evident from their photos. Their photos were also displayed there, but the faces have been scratched out by someone. I am assuming it was a visitor as the fierceness of the scratches showed that the person was acting out in pain and anger. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge killed people in Cambodia for their perceived opposition to the regime's ideology and vision for a communist society

Pol Pot was a Cambodian politician and revolutionary who led the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. During his time in power, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge carried out a brutal campaign of mass murder and genocide that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people, or approximately one-quarter of the country's population. The Khmer Rouge had a vision of creating a classless society based on agrarian communism, which meant that they wanted to abolish all forms of private property and establish a system of collective farming. To achieve this, they launched a radical and violent campaign to purge Cambodia of anyone they considered to be an enemy of the revolution, including intellectuals, professionals, religious minorities, and anyone suspected of opposing the regime.

The Khmer Rouge believed that urban areas were breeding grounds for capitalism and imperialism, and they sought to eliminate them by forcibly relocating millions of people from the cities to the countryside, where they were put to work on collective farms. The conditions on these farms were extremely harsh, and many people died from overwork, malnutrition, and disease.

The Khmer Rouge also set up a vast network of prisons and detention centers, where they tortured and killed anyone suspected of being an enemy of the revolution. These prisons, including Tuol Sleng, were used to extract false confessions from prisoners, who were then executed or sent to labour camps.

Walking through the prison cells and torture chambers was a chilling experience. The tiny cells were barely big enough for a person to stand up in, and the rusted metal beds and shackles were a stark reminder of the inhumane conditions that prisoners were forced to endure. One of the most moving exhibits was a room filled with the clothes and belongings of the prisoners who were killed at the prison. Seeing the shoes, clothing, and personal items of the victims was a powerful reminder that they were real people who had families and lives before they were taken to the prison.

While unlike the memorials of the killing fields, there are no skulls and bones that serve as a harsh reminder of the torture these people bore, Leaving the museum, I felt a deep sense of sadness and anger at the atrocities that took place in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime. But I also felt a sense of hope, knowing that the museum is working to educate visitors and prevent such atrocities from happening in the future.

Visiting the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was a sobering and emotional experience. It is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in learning about the history of Cambodia and the resilience of its people in the face of unimaginable horrors

palace, buddhist monks & night life of cambodia

For long western travellers have defined what is exotic…and now as we…the Indian travellers take over a large slice of this lucrative industry….we decide what is exotic too. And in my opinion, Cambodia is the best mix of exotic and a warmish feeling of home mixed together.

From the moment I arrived, I was struck by the warmth and friendliness of the locals. Everyone I met was eager to help me navigate the city and make the most of my stay. I checked into a lovely hotel in the city centre, which served as a comfortable and convenient base for my adventures. I went to a small boutique hotel (I always choose them over luxury or cheaper chain hotels) called Tea House, which is described as a small, urban boutique hotel designed in an attractive retro Chinese-inspired style, and found in a central location near the Independence Monument.

After dumping our stuff my friend and I booked motorcycle taxi (one for each) and headed to visit the Royal Palace. The palace is a stunning example of Khmer architecture, with intricate carvings and beautiful gardens that provide a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city. I was amazed by the palace's grandeur and the wealth of history contained within its walls. But even more amazing was our chance encounter with a young Buddhist monk who was also visiting the palace. We struck a conversation with him and ended up spending almost an hour soaking up his ‘Gyan’ on Cambodia and their style of Buddhism.

Afterwards we explored the palace which is set within beautifully landscaped grounds, which include stunning gardens and ornamental trees. Visitors are greeted by a stunning entryway that leads to a central courtyard. The courtyard is surrounded by several buildings, each of which is adorned with intricate carvings and statues. One of the most impressive buildings within the palace complex is the Throne Hall. It's a massive structure that's topped with a gilded roof and features ornate decorations throughout. The Throne Hall is used for ceremonial events, such as coronations and royal weddings.

Another notable building within the palace complex is the Silver Pagoda. It's named after its gleaming silver floor, which is made up of more than 5,000 silver tiles. The Silver Pagoda houses an impressive collection of Buddha statues, gold and silver artifacts, and other precious objects. Other buildings within the palace complex include the Khemarin Palace, which is the private residence of the king, and the Chanchhaya Pavilion, which is used for state and ceremonial events.

Of course, no trip to Phnom Penh would be complete without sampling the local cuisine. So the evening was spent at the famous Foreign Correspondent’s club or the FCC along Sisowath Quay’s river promenade, where the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers converge. Being a member of FCC in India, I thought we might get some extra privileges there, but that is not so. FCC of Phnom Penh is just like any other restaurant or club. Anyway, we enjoyed a few drinks and indulged in a wide range of delicious dishes, from spicy curries to sweet desserts. One of my favourite dishes was Amok, a traditional Cambodian curry made with fish and coconut milk. I also enjoyed exploring the city's vibrant nightlife scene, which offered everything from rooftop bars to live music venues.

Throughout my trip, I felt safe and welcome as a solo female traveller. The locals were friendly and helpful, and I never encountered any issues while exploring the city. Overall, my trip to Phnom Penh was a fantastic adventure, and I can't wait to return and explore more of this beautiful country.

One of the first things I did was to explore the city's vibrant street markets. From colourful textiles to delicious street food, the markets were a feast for the senses. I enjoyed haggling with the vendors and trying new dishes, and the bustling energy of the markets was infectious.

jungle walk in meghalaya to see nature's wonder; living bridges

Who defines what is trekking? Is the back breaking effort of climbing some high hill top only form of trek? Nope. I don't believe so....neither did my friends and thats why with a year old baby in our arms we decided to trek along the jungle pathways of Meghalaya to go see the famous....Living Bridges. As the warm rays of the morning sun illuminated the emerald landscapes of Meghalaya, I found myself standing at the threshold of a breathtaking adventure that would lead us to one of nature's most captivating wonders—the living root bridges.
As we ventured deeper into the dense forests, the air grew cooler and fresher, carrying the earthy scent of damp leaves and moss. The towering trees provided a canopy of shade, while rays of sunlight filtered through the dense foliage, painting intricate patterns on the forest floor.
We walked through a labyrinth of winding trails and babbling streams. The path was dotted with all sorts of trees, my favourite being the Jackfruit tree, or as we call it Kathal ka ped in Hindi. And then, emerging from the lush greenery like a hidden treasure, we caught our first glimpse of the living root bridges. The bridges, crafted by generations of the Khasi people, were a remarkable feat of nature's collaboration with humanity. Thick, tangled roots of ancient banyan trees cascaded down from above, intertwining and entwining until they formed intricate latticework, sturdy enough to bear the weight of those who traversed them. There was a cement bridge also for those who wished to witness these marvels from a strong footing and firm ground.
The bridges spanned across the gushing rivers below, their steps inviting us to venture closer. We eagerly descended the moss-covered steps, their coolness soothing our feet as we approached the heart of this enchanting spectacle. The bridges seemed to pulsate with life, their organic nature blending seamlessly with the surrounding forest.
With every step we took, the bridges revealed new intricacies and mysteries. Tiny wildflowers nestled within the crevices, their delicate petals adding bursts of color to the verdant tapestry. The air was alive with the symphony of nature, as the melodious notes of birdsong intermingled with the rush of water below. The cool mist from the cascading waterfalls caressed our skin, refreshing us and invigorating our spirits.
We spent some time clicking photographs so that we could file this amazing moment in our collective memories. After anout an hour we decided to walk back to our vehicle, we said our goodbyes to this natural marvel and started our jungle walk.