Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Prior to our bus ride to Siem Reap, we decided to visit one of the sorrowing relics from Cambodia’s painful history. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, formally a high-school, was converted to infamous Security Prison 21 during the Khmer Rouge rule.

The compound was disheartening and eerie, barred window rooms barely touched since their use, a single bed with iron shackles used to constrain the prisoners. Some rooms still had blood stained floors with even footprints visible.

Building B was quite emotional, a photo collage of the hundreds of men and women who were sent to Security Prison 21. Pol Pot was very detailed with documentation , for all prisoners who arrived at the prison, photos were taken of them. Some of the people were even photographed smiling, unaware of the horrors that they would be witness to.

Out of buildings B, C and D, building C was the only one left untouched to preserve the initial prison design. Barbed wire remains around the ground floor, stopped anyone from trying to escape,  the large rooms were converted into tiny cells, less than a metre squared. The upper levels were the same, though this time separated by wood, a decision probably made due to the floor height already making it difficult to escape.

The last builder, D, was the most chilling, with sections of instrumentation used for torturing the prisoners. Two water torture apparatus can be seen, one used for water-boarding, and the other for water submersion. One of the final rooms housed a number of skulls of the victims.

Entrance to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
One of the large cells in Building A, Security Prison 21
One of the large cells in Building A notice the shackles on the bed
Building B seen from Building A
Bloody footprints still seen in the rooms
Hard beds in the rooms of Building A
Original iron shackles lying on the bed
Security Prison 21 - Security of Regulation
Original school play equipment converted into instruments of torture
Portraits of the many people sent to Security Prison 21
Hundreds of shackles all used to constrain the prisoners
The exterior walkways of Building B inside Security Prison 21
Preserved Building C with barbed-wire around the ground floor
Barbed-wire fence and entrance to Building C at Security Prison 21
The lower floor of Building C, converted into small cells
View through the barbed-wire of Building C towards Security Prison 21 grounds
Upper floors of Building C, rooms converted into wooden small cells
Sonya at the walkway of Building C
One of the rooms with a genocide display
Barbed-wire fence outside Building C of Security Prison 21
Room of instruments of torture, a water boarding device can be seen
Bone fragments and skulls from those murdered in Security Prison 21
A map made from the skulls of victims in Security Prison 21
The original high-school grounds converted to Security Prison 21


At the entrance was a list of “The Security of Regulation”

  1. You must answer accordingly to my questions – don’t turn them away.
  2. Don’t try to hide the facts by making pretexts this and that – you are strictly prohibited to contest me.
  3. Don’t be fool for you are a chap who dare to thwart the revolution.
  4. You must immediately answer my questions without wasting time to reflect.
  5. Don’t’ tell me either about your immoralities or the essence of the revolution.
  6. While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.
  7. Do nothing, sit still and wait for my orders, if there is not order, keep quiet, when I ask you to do something, you must do it right away without protesting.
  8. Don’t make pretext about Kampuchea Kromin order to hide your secret or traitor
  9. If you don’t follow all the above rules, you shall get many lashes of electric wire.
  10. If you disobey any point of my regulations you shall get either ten lashes or five shows of electric discharge.

Phnom Penh Night Market, Cambodia

We arrived in Phnom Penh after a two hour flight from Singapore. We caught a tuk-tuk from the airport to downtown where we would be staying. Upon our arrival at the hotel, the staff advised that while we had made a room reservation, they did not have a room available and sent us to a sister hotel a few blocks away, a bit further from the main tourist area. We were quite annoyed  and frustrated, but as we were only staying for one night before heading to Siem Reap, we decided to accept their discount and stay at the other hotel.

It was still walking distance to the riverside road, Sisowath Quay, so we decided to wander there in the afternoon.  We passed the Royal Palace, which looks extravagant from the outside. Due to the recent King’s death, the Palace is closed to visitors for three months.

There were many tourists around given it was peak visiting seasons. We were hungry and stopped at a local restaurant who claimed its proceeds were given to less fortunate Cambodian children. We ordered a delicious amok (Cambodian fish coconut curry) dish and La Lok (beef with rice).

After our meal we headed to the Phnom Penh Night Market for a stroll. It was a Saturday evening so there were many stalls selling all kinds of items from clothing, jewellery to souvenirs. We immediately went to the food stalls – a colourful display of Cambodian snacks – skewers of meat, fish, and all sorts of unidentifiable delicacies. Having just eaten we were very full but still decided to sample a few fresh rice rolls which were only one-thousand-five-hundred Riels (approximately twenty-five cents) each! In the centre of the food stalls were many bamboo mats which the locals used for eating their meals. We also tried a sweet dessert, similar to ais kacang (a Malaysian dessert), consistent of various sweet/savoury snacks and mixed with shaved ice, coconut milk and syrup.

One of the many food stalls at the night market
Rice paper rolls and other delicacies
Fresh sugar cane juice
Fresh seafood on skewers
Various processed meats on skewers
The very popular Angry bird featured on skewers
An assortment of Cambodian foods, rice paper rolls and papaya salad
Cambodia ais kacang dessert