S.21 and gun range
18.05.2016 - 18.05.2016
What an extremely, emotional day. I was nauseous multiple times and cried twice (no bullshit). Cambodia feels different to me, more dangerous to be honest. I don't know what it is. When Garrison said, 'look like a homeless person', a while back, I'm only now taking that seriously. People don't look at you and smile, they stare, expressionless. Of course, I don't understand the Cambodian culture, and I don't front like I do, but it feels different from the other countries. Today, we decided to combine two intense experiences together and I felt incredibly overwhelmed.
We came to Phnom Penh for two reasons: S.21/killing fields and the ever so-famous gun ranges we've heard so much about.
We had no problem finding a tuk-tuk driver for the day. These guys sit outside waiting for you. He approached, we confirmed $16.00US for the day, that was it. This money probably meets his entire day-wage, and we have no problem with that. On a side note, it's a b*tch paying in American 😑 Anyways, he stayed with us all day, and thankfully, because we made our way so far outside the city core, I was nervous.
We got to the S21 genocide museum, where 12,000 Cambodian civilians were tortured,and forced to admit to crimes they never committed. We listened to audio via. headphones, walking through buildings A-D, learning about the genocide that took place from 1975-1979. If I wasn't in the paramedic field, I would find this tour unbearable. My heart ached with every different room, every different story. And to think this happened in the 70's. It really opens your eyes to the possibility, the realism, that this shit could happen today, while we're here. We learned of a New Zealander man, Kerry Hamill, at 27 years old, who was on a 'yahting adventure of a lifetime', cruising off the coast of Kampuchea, at the time this was all happening. He was kidnapped, forced to write an untrue confession, and murdered only 2 months later.
As we approached the end of our tour, Chum Mey, one of the only 12 survivors of the Cambodian genocide, sat at a table, greeting us with a smile, and that was it. I felt such incredible hardship and emotion for this man. I purchased his book, honoured his courage, and will forever hope, he finds peace.
We'd planned to visit the killing fields before the gun range, but lightning got the best of us. We went straight to the indoor gun range. I wasn't STOKED about shooting guns, but I've always said, "don't knock it, till you try it". Of course, my love was in heaven. (What man wouldn't be?) We approached this sketchy looking
compound, chose an AK47 and RPD to shoot, at $55US (30rounds), each, and off we went. I shot 4 rounds from the AK47, and called it quits. I found it incredibly difficult to hold something with so much power, especially after our visit to S.21. I sat back and enjoyed watching Garrison in his glory. I really did, he had so much fun. We took some badass photos after, and found our way back to the hostel.
I don't know if I want to trek out to the killing fields tomorrow. I feel I've seen enough.
I do encourage you to read about the Khmer Rouge genocide of 75'-79', and I'm sorry if this blog is blunt, and truthful, but it was an incredibly real, and emotional day. My heart goes out to all those who suffered during this time, the survivors, and the people of Cambodia, that live on today.
Until next time,
Rob and Erin ✌🏼️