Posted by: travelrat | February 18, 2020

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Tuol Sleng 1

Phnom Penh: 12th November 2019

This morning, we flew to the capital, Phnom Penh. Almost immediately. We were taken to the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, a reminder of the murderous Pol Pot regime of the 1970s. This visit was, according to the itinerary, scheduled for tomorrow, but it’s possible the guide wanted to get it over as soon as possible. He’d said his father had disappeared during those brutal times, for the ‘crime’ of being a schoolteacher.

This sort of thing, I’m in two minds about. I get really depressed when visiting such places, and sometimes feel that depression and vacations don’t really mix. But, at the same time, such things ought not to be swept under the carpet, and you certainly get more of an impression of what went on than you do sitting in your lounge, watching a television news reader in a comfortable studio telling about it.

The museum is in a former school, which had been taken over by the Khmer Rouge as a centre where suspects were interrogated and tortured, before being shipped off to the infamous ‘Killing Fields’

Most of us were moved, and even upset by what we saw in here … even the guide, though he did his best not to show it. I couldn’t do very much of it. I soon gave up, and went to sit in the garden. I took only a couple of pictures, and made no video; I didn’t think it was appropriate.

Such sites, although in no way ‘attractions’ should, I think, be included in itineraries. It’s a sad, but necessary part of travel, and gives a broader picture of what lies behind the palaces and suchlike attractions.

It’s only when you go especially to see sites like this that they become ‘black tourism’; even verging on the ghoulish … and there are, I hope, very few of that kind of people.

Tuol Sleng 2

 


Responses

  1. I agree with you.


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