Our last few days in Cambodia have sped by. We said goodbye to the Surata school on Monday, collecting our certificates and thanking the Director for having us this week. We enjoyed our last sunset altogether on the beach and went for one last bowl of pasta in the little restaurant next to our hostel!
We left bright and early Tuesday morning and made our way to Phnom Penh. On arrival we were given spaghetti for supper and a cake, for Jaz’s birthday, that despite its green colouring was actually very yummy! Some of us went out that night to look for a place to have a birthday boogie for Jaz, but sadly Phnom Penh has nothing on Siem Reap when it comes to a good night out (yolo bar forever <3!!) However we still managed to enjoy a few beers at a slightly questionable bar.
Our trip to the Killing Fields today was harrowing to say the least.
What the Khmer Rouge did is something you’d expect to find in a dystopian novel, except it really happened. They systematically worked to destroy any notion of individual thought, idea or ounce of intelligence. Moving everyone out of the cities, murdering anyone with any sort of intellectual background (including people who simply wore glasses or had soft hands) and working people to death (literally) with the aim of creating a state fueled by agrarian communism with 8 million mindless people making it happen seems insane – but it really did happen. I think you really need to keep in mind that more than 1/4 (3 million) people of Cambodia died during the reign of Pol Pot, can you actually imagine if something like that happened at home? I can’t and I really don’t want to.
In the afternoon we visited the notorious and particularly vile S21 prison which was arguably worse, there were still blood stains on the wall from the beatings of prisoners and the whole place has a very eerie feel to it. The tour was fascinating but for me personally it made me feel sick to my stomach hearing about the prisoners and the torture they endured during their time in the prison. Both the killing fields/mass graves and S21 are places you must see to understand properly.
Anyway, on a lighter note it is now our last evening in Cambodia and we are about to go out together for our last cultural experience – pizza at Il Forno, a favourite of ours in Siem Reap and we were delighted to hear there’s one in Phnom Penh too! Everyone is having a mixture of feelings of real sadness for leaving but also excitement for everything that’s coming next, but it is still so hard to believe that tomorrow we’ll be off.
At the beginning of this trip I didn’t really know what to expect or how it would go and I was actually so nervous I can’t even tell you! I have really had the time of my life and I don’t think I’m the only one. It hasn’t always gone 100% to plan but that’s ok and it wouldn’t be real life if everything went completely smoothly all the time. We’ve all made some friends who I think will be around for a long time and a lot of us have got out of our comfort zone in one way or another (I know I definitely have). We’ve been able to live in and experience this incredible and still troubled country for two months whilst being able to help in our own small way and actually give something back through hard work and I am so thankful for that. We’ve seen real life whilst we’ve been here and I don’t think we’re going to forget it anytime soon. This has been the greatest adventure and I’m so gutted to be leaving, but I promise here and now – I will be back! xx