Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Instruments of Death
I sure got my fill of those today, visually and hands on. We started the day with some shooting at a Cambodian range. It's really Mickey Mouse, you go inside where they sit you down and give you a menu full of options for weapons to shoot. I had no idea where to begin, but I started out shooting an M-16A1. Mickey, one of the two Austrians I've been hanging with, fired an AK to start, then we moved on to a belt fed Russian PKM Machine gun. That was kick ass, probably the only opportunity I'll ever have to shoot a heavy caliber machine gun. I finished it off with a PPsh 41, a WWII Russian submachine gun.
Then we moved on to see the genocidal history of the Khmer Rouge regime. Up until now not much of the historical things I've seen on this trip have been that dark, maybe fort's but nothing quite as evil as what we saw today. It was truly grim, seeing the dark side of humanity. We walked around the Killing Fields where Pol Pot's evil minions bludgeoned thousands, then to be buried in mass graves. Walking around the sights you can see the big craters where the corpses were exhumed, and their skulls still sit on display in a pagoda that serves as a memorial. Then we went to S-21, the prison where people were imprisoned, tortured and most likely killed. The exterior of the building just looks plain evil, and is the biggest candidate for being haunted I've ever seen. It has a institutional, dark look to it, and even without an explanation of what happened there you could still have a good idea that evil deeds were committed there. Some of the individual rooms are full of mug shots of prisoners taken when they were imprisoned, and some that were taken after they died, some very graphic. As morbid as all this was, I think it's definitely important to see these things, as they are reminders of mistakes that never should be made again.
Anyways, as a city Phnom Penh sucks, it's a lot like India in terms of traffic, noise and pollution. The night life is lame at best. We're going to look into a bus ticket to Kratie tomorrow, where we can go see some endangered River Dolphins.