First days in Phnom Penh

I’ve spent the past couple of days exploring Phnom Penh and getting a feel for the city. Last night I enjoyed a mango smoothie (it’s almost the end of mango season here, so I’m trying to take advantage of any and all mango opportunities I have left) and wandered around the northern part of PP. While I have gotten lost on multiple occasions, this method of sight-seeing led me to a Buddhist temple (Wat Langka) and Independence Monument.

On my first day, I decided to visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the largest torture and detention center–known as Security Prison (S-21)–under the Khmer Rouge. The museum is breathtaking and documents both the horrors and the resilience of Cambodia. What tied up the whole experience was meeting Bou Meng, one of the only seven survivors of S-21. Meng lived due to his skills as an artist: The guards thought Meng’s portraits of Pol Pot made him look handsome, Hannah Aronson in Cambodiaso they kept Meng alive to paint for them. According to prison records, Meng’s wife was tortured at S-21 and killed. Now in his late 70s, Bou Meng dedicates his life to sharing his story.

It is now my third day in Phnom Penh and I am already starting to grow accustomed to the city’s pace. I learned early on that this is not the most walkable city–the tuk tuk and moto drivers are fearless, zipping by and beeping at you from only a few inches away. Here is a video clip of my tuk tuk ride to work.

Yesterday was my first visit to the office, and apparently last. The lease on the office is up and we’ve decided to mooch off of the free wifi in local coffee shops. On Monday, I will be visiting one of Liberty Asia’s partners to help with training on the Victim Case Management System (VCMS), and this weekend I hope to tour Choeung Ek, the site of the Killing Fields. I look forward to my upcoming adventures!

Originally posted on hannaharonson.com

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