Sunday 20 July 2014

Cambodia Day 4 (Phnom Penh) : Royal Palace + Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)

5D4N Cambodia Feb 2014 : Phnom Penh

I realised Cambodia focus greatly on their services line which boosts their tourism sector. Tourists can plan their itinerary and book tuktuk services online before the trip. Convenient! Fast! Good attitude! Helpful! Comes with reasonable prices! *thumbs up* #neighbourcountrypleaselearnok

We booked our driver for around 6 hours today for 3 places: Royal Palace, Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21) and Russian Market including our dessert break at Toto cafe. He quoted us U$15.

Royal Palace

Preah Timeang Tevea Vinicchay : The Throne Hall

The Throne Hall was built in 1866 to serve as the residence for King of Cambodia and as a venue for diplomatic and other official meeting in the past. It was a symbol of the Kingdom. Today, it is served as a place for religious and royal ceremonies (such as royal weddings).

front view

Hor Samrith Phimean also know as the ‘Bronze Palace’

Preah Reach Damnak Chan - currently houses the administrative offices of the Royal Palace.

Silver Pagoda (Wat Preah Keo Morokat - The Temple of Emerald Buddha)

Within the same walled compound, Silver Pagoda sits next to the Royal Palace only separated by a walkway. The floor was laid with solid silver tiles and hence came the name. This is the place where the King and the monks gather for religious topics. Unlike other pagodas, there is no monks live at this pagoda.

Ramayana Frescoes

Silver Pagoda and Royal Palace are separated by this walls that is covered with stunning frescoes painting depicting Reamker stories but is fading away due to neglected care.

Stupa - hemispherical structure containing the ashes of HM King Suramarit and HM Queen Kossomak 

Statue of HM King Norodom Equestrian statue of the King Norodom.

Model of Angkor Wat

Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda
Address: Samdech Sothearos Boulevard, 2 km from Wat Phnom
Admission Price: U$6.50/pax
 Opening hours: Daily 7:30am-11:00am / 2:00pm-5:00pm.

Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21) 

Tuol Sleng (in Khmer) 
"Hill of the Poisonous Trees"

We visited the place where it was known as one of the bloodiest genocide in history happened between 1975 to 1979.

Chronology of Cambodia

Khmer Rouge is the communist party of Kampuchea in Cambodia. After they have won Cambodia Civil War, they have turned Toul Sleng which previously was a high school into a detention/torture/interrogation facility. They have renamed to S-21 which stands for "Security Prison 21". The prisoners were those who against them during the war.

The classrooms were divided up into tiny cells to serve as prison or torture chambers.

The rooms were divided into small cell by brick walls or wooden separators. 

Above were the 10 strict regulation that the prisoners must follow.

Photographs of victims were killed by torture and execution. They even have the display of the instruments used during the interrogation.

Extensive records of stories or confession from victims themselves.

Building was also enclosed in a fishnet of electrified barbed wires to prevent escapes or committing suicide.

There was very minimal of sunlight in the rooms/tiny cells. Although there was no awkward smell, the overwhelming negativity magnetic field made us very difficult to breathe.

A rusting iron bedframe in one of the classrooms

This bigger room was used to detaining cadres who were accused of leading the uprising against Khmer Rouge. The windows were paneled with glass to minimize the screaming being heard outside of the facility in times of torture.

A picture on the wall illustrated a tortured victim on the bed with bloodstain on the ground.

Estimated around 17,000 people were imprisoned at Tuol Sleng where the prisoners were repeatedly tortured and coerced into naming family members and close associates who were against the Khmer Rouge. Any disobedient prisoners were suffered to physical torture, such as electric shocks and searing hot metal instruments and hanging, until they confess to the crime they did or did not do.

The illustrated picture shows how this torture tools was being used.

With these kind of inhuman torture, I guess anyone would rather to admit to any crime they did not do than repeatedly being tortured physically and mentally every single day. Even if they conceded, they were still killed after confession. 


Before S-21, this wooden pole was used by students to conduct their exercise. The Khmer Rouge utilized this as one of the interrogation places. The prisoners were tied both hands behind their back using a rope and lift upside down. When they had lost consciousness, their heads were then dipped into the barrel of filthy water. This shocked the prisoners back into consciousness and the interrogators could continued their interrogation.

Unable to take the torture or the unhygienic living condition or being murdered, many had died and were buried within the same compound as the prison. However, soon they ran out of burial spaces, the prisoner and their family were taken to the Choeung Ek extermination centre (Killing Field), fifteen kilometers from Phnom Penh where we were going later in the day.

Heard from other tour guide, there were only twelve survivors out of 17,000 prisoners. These survivors were kept alive because they had skills that the Khmer Rouge deemed to be useful. As of 2011, only three are believe to be still alive. We saw one of the three at the museum promoting books who we did not buy the book. 

Compound is surrounded by rows of corrugated iron fence covered with dense barbed wire.

The former prison – once a school – is a chilling sight. Nobody thought a school would turn into a prison and  finally a graveyard. Today, it serves as a museum, a memorial and a testament to the inhuman act of the Khmer Rouge.

Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)
Admission: U$3/pax
Open everyday, including holidays 8:00am-5:00pm. 
Address: Corner of Street 113 and Street 350 4.3 km from Wat Phnom

No comments:

Post a Comment