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The Story of Diogo Veloso

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The Story of Diogo Veloso, Spanish conquistadors and the battle for Cambodia…….a true and remarkable part of history.
In the late 16th Century (around 1580 a young man in his early 30’s  leaves his small town in Northern Portugal and sets sail from Porto for Asia looking for adventure, wealth and love.

In 1583, not long after Gaspa du Cruz had recorded the first European visit to the country in1555, Veloso establishes himself in the commercial and cosmopolitan enclave known as Phnom Penh, the main hub of all activity on the mighty Mekong River with known Khmer, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Latin American, Chinese, Champa, Malay, Dai, Lao and others living and working alongside each other.

image-1Marrying into the Royal Family and learning the language, Veloso found much favour with King Satha at the Royal Court now based in Longvek just north of Phnom Penh.

However, with the once mighty Angkor Empire in ruins and its very survival in the balance; King Satha having to fight both the marauding Siamese ( the Thai, who now controlled Angkor Wat and most of Northern Cambodia) and the Champa ( a Muslim Kingdom in what is now Southern Vietnam), as well as constant internal struggles, All seemed lost.

Veloso had other ideas. His destiny now embedded to Cambodia and with his new found conquistador friends, Peruvian born adventurer, 21 year old Ruiz Biaz and Spanish sea captain, Gregiorode  Vargas, (both whom had recently escaped capture from the Champa on route to explore Cambodia from Canton, China), Had other ideas.

With a Royal Letter dated 20 July 1593 written in Gold Leaf, Veloso, acting as Ambassador to the King, sets sail for the Philippines (Biaz and Vargas remain in Phnom Penh and fight alongside the Khmer defending King Satha's country) seeking urgent assistance from the Spanish colonial headquarters and garrison in Manila.

The Spanish, on seeing both an opportunity to convert Cambodia to Catholicism (earlier attempts were know to have failed miserably but here the King in so desperate need of military help gives Royal consent!) and to also control Cambodia's valuable trading activities (silk, hard wood, salt, pepper and of course gold), Offered to intervene.

Returning from Manila to Cambodia in February 1594, Veloso was shocked to see the Siamese now in control of Phnom Penh and his great friend King Satha forced to retreat to yet another new capital at Sre Santhor over the Mekong River….the Siamese having totally destroyed Longvek.

Worst was to come. Veloso and his friends along with numerous Spanish and Portuguese are captured by the Siamese and shipped off to Ayudtha, the Siam capital.
On route, Biaz and Vagas, with superior military and naval knowledge, overthrow their captors and Force sail to Manila.

Veloso on a separate vessel takes another route. Sweet talking the Siamese King he is allowed to leave for Malacca. He doth leave.....But straight to Manila

Reunited the three comrades’ work in earnest to sway Spain's almost immediate approval to dispatch 200 plus highly trained Conquistadores, along with priests, Japanese Christians, Filipinos, lay folk and of course munitions, aboard three galleons to Cambodia.

Arriving mid-year of 1596, the Spanish military and religious expedition, (less Vargas whose ship had been blown off course) arrive in Phnom Penh Where the  situation has once more taken a dramatic turn. Veloso's great friend and supporter King Satha had been overthrown and forced into exile up the Mekong to Laos.  His cousin, now Ream I, is in control.

Ream's army, with highly trained Malay mercenaries alongside had also been successful in driving the Siamese out of Cambodia.  And in no mood to entertain his old enemy Satha's friends, tension could not be higher

A seemingly separate incident ignited the fuse.  For some unexplained reason, the Spanish attacked four Chinese Junks, slaughtering the crew then rampaging through the Chinese Quarter killing hundreds.

Not done yet, Veloso and his conquistadors set their sights on King Ream in Srei Santhor. Records of the attack by Spanish Priests compare the subsequent slaughter, including of King Ream and his family, to those unimaginable scenes from South America.

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Destroying the capital and returning to Phnom Penh, they are met by a very angry Vargas whose ship had finally arrived from Manila. Upon hearing of the carnage he immediately disowns Veloso and Biaz and claiming seniority on behalf of Spain makes reparations to both the Khmer and Chinese in a perhaps vain attempt at keep the peace! Soon after he sets sail for Manila and never returns.

Veloso and Biaz are not happy with any of this and immediately head for Laos where they plan to bring back King Satha.  After an epic overland journey from Hoi An, Vietnam after their vessel is shipwrecked (and so becoming the first Europeans to visit Laos), they find their great friend and ally had recently died.

The two comrades act fast and decide to bring home Satha's young song, with his mother, And place him on the thrown.

Arriving in Phnom Penh where a new King, Ream II had recently been crowned great anarchy still wracked the country. Seizing their chance yet again the two comrades, with considerable Lao military support (as well as from Japanese) assist Satha's son in overthrowing and killing Ream II and taking his place as the new ruler of Cambodia under the title Barom Reachea V.

Veloso and Biaz, in hoping for a more settled and prosperous time….with a new and supportive Royal Court….could not be further wrong.

King Barom's rule was plagued with rebellion with much of the country lawless. In late 1597 Veloso and Biaz become embroiled in a major skirmish in Phnom Penh where Malay and Khmer dignitaries are executed. Phnom Penh is in complete turmoil. The situation is dangerous and urgent. Veloso pleads for more help from Spain who, in 1598, despatch 3 galleons from Manila with Spanish Philippine and Japanese on board, one from Hong Kong and one from Nagasaki Japan led by a Portuguese-Japanese captain. Unbeknown to Veloso and Biaz, in Mid year 1599 Khmer, Muslim Champa, Malay and Japanese being concerned and angered at this Iberian build up in Phnom Penh, plan a devastating attack on the Spanish garrison. The battle for Phnom Penh is brutal and finally ends fatally for both Veloso and Biaz who died fighting alongside each other. Only one Priest and six Filipinos survived from this small Spanish colony of religious, military and commercial peoples. And so here ends our story along with the brief but amazing period of Portuguese and Spanish involvement in Cambodia's history

10 Reasons to Visit Cambodia

Perhaps you might be wondering why tourists are mesmerized by Cambodia’s charm every time they visit this erstwhile French colony. To answer your question, here are ten compelling reasons why visit Cambodia.

Visit the Temples

Cambodia is known for its ancient ruins and temples such as the Angkor Wat Temple, the Baphoun Temple, the Banteay Srei temple, Bayon, the royal monastery of Ta Prohm and Preah Khan. You may also visit the temple of Prasat Kravan which is famous for its five towers inlaid with red bricks; the temple of Banteay Kdei in the Angkor Archaeological Park, and the Srah Srang and the Angkor Thom south gate.

cambodia-reasonsAttend a Cooking Tour

Learn the art of cooking Khmer dishes in a matter of 4 hours and familiarize with Cambodian cooking ingredients and the traditional way of preparing them. It is a rare opportunity to visit the countryside and meet the local people. Tourists enjoy most of their time in the cooking tour using firewood and makeshift stove. You will also tour the market, see the fresh farm products and talk to the vendors.

Enjoy a Golf Holiday

Cambodia is proud of its international standard golf courses at the Phokeethra Country Club, and the Nick Faldo-inspired Angkor Golf Course. Another golfing alternative is the Siem Reap Booyoung Country Club, the Cambodia Golf and Country Club, the City Golf of Cambodia, and the Garden City Golf Club. During the tour, you will be exposed to the techniques in playing golf and relaxation at the clubhouse with meals.

Visit Historic Sites

Learn the story behind the genocide during the Khmer Rouge regime by visiting the Choeung Ek Killing Fields, the Genocide Museum, the War and Cambodia Museums. These sites offer extensive learning tool for history students and teachers. Photos about the torture and extermination of the innocent people and children are displayed. The tour will familiarize you about the Khmer Rouge leadership and the damage it had done to its people and the entire nation.

Have a River Cruise Tour

Explore the beauty of Cambodia’s lowland and uplands of having a river cruise along the Tonle Sap and the Mekong River. On board the cruise, you will truly appreciate its natural beauty. Feast your eyes on the floating villages, the floating markets and the French colonial buildings that dot the river bank, enjoy a variety of Khmer dishes on board and meet new friends and share your experience.

Swimming and Snorkeling

Cambodia boasts of its long coastline teemed with white sand beaches. Why not visit the Koh Rong Island and dip your body in the cool waters of the Southwestern Beach, and the placid Long Set Beach. On Koh Rong Saloem is the famous Lazy Beach which is ideal for sun tanning. At the Ream National Park, you will be amazed at the beauty of Koh Thmei Beach and the Sokha Beach in Sihanoukville.

Enjoy Cycling Tour

Cycling tours are offered to tourists who love to tour around the city and the provincial areas using a rented bike. Along the course of the cycling tour, you will have the chance to take some photos, enjoy the local dishes and meet fellow tourists while visiting the temples and ruins in the country. The tour will take you to different historical sites, museums and the countryside down to the coastal areas.

Spend a Full-Day Birdwatching Tour

The Birdwatching tour is not only focused on visiting the bird sanctuary at the Preak Toal village, but you will also see a variety of birdlife of different species. The tour is your opportunity to cruise the Tonle Sap and the Prek Toal Biosphere Reserve. While on board, you will be treated with delectable dishes and a tour to the Chhong Kneas fishing village before heading back to Siem Reap.

Have Fun with Flight Tours & Hot Air Balloons

If you love flying you can book for a helicopter or a hot air balloon tour which allows you to see the panoramic view of Cambodia’s mountains and coastline. While hovering in the sky, you will be able to see the bird’s eye view of the archaeological parks, national parks, historical sites, temples, ancient and modern buildings. The tour package is inclusive with meals, pick up and drop off.

Savor Khmer Dishes on Street Food Tour

Like its Asian neighbors, Cambodia is proud of its dishes cooked in traditional way as well as served by restaurants that abound in the city of Phnom Penh. Give yourself a chance by savoring the taste of exotic dishes concocted to stir your gastronomic taste such as fried ants, spider, or grilled snake and a lot more. The tour includes a visit to the wet market, and tour in the city.

Cambodia Tourism

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Cambodia is a land of diverse cultures and religions. It has one of the world’s oldest civilizations being the home of world renowned Angkor Wat temple and countless other ancient temples and ruins. Since the country is bounded by its Asian neighbors such as Vietnam, Thailand and Laos, it is no wonder why tourists from these countries will cross borders to experience the adventure in Cambodia.

Tourism has provided the country with sustainable income, thanks a lot to its countless of tourist attractions from Phnom Penh to its provinces and provincial cities. It can be recalled that the country generated about $2.5 billion income from its tourism industry in 2013. For travelers to this erstwhile French protectorate in Asia, you can find a lot of websites for Cambodia tourism resources to make your travel relaxing.

Most tourists learn about Cambodia by visiting the trip advisor site at http://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/Tourism-g293939-Cambodia-Vacations.html. Tourists who have already spent their vacation and tours in Cambodia would post their reviews about the country, its hotels, tours and attractions. In fact, most travelers who have not tried visiting the former French colony would browse the site to have an idea how they would spend their vacation.

The site of Impress travel through http://www.cambodiatraveltours.net/ assures travelers of low rate travel and tour packages. The site offers Cambodia tours that include a three-day tour in Siem Reap and Angkor, a 7-day tour in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, a 4-day tour of Siem Reap and Angkor and 7-day tour in Cambodia. They also provide different packages for trips between Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos for 4 days, 9 days, 18 days or 13 days.

The Asia Tour Advisor through its site http://www.asiatouradvisor.com/ is definitely one of Cambodia’s best travel agencies that offers tourists with top ten tours in Cambodia such as Cambodia Grand Tour and Sea for 19 days and 18 nights; Cambodia Great Tour for 19 days and 18 nights; Beautiful South of Cambodia and Mystical Angkor for 11 days and 10 nights; a tour to the Rural Cambodia And Homestay – for 12 days and 11 nights; West and South tour for 14 days and 13 nights; Beach tour in Cambodia for 13 days and 12 nights; Grand Tour for 13 days and 12 nights; Northeast and Central Provinces tour, culture and beach tour for 12 days and 11 nights; and major attractions and beach tours for 13 days and 12 nights.

Travelers may take a look at the packages offered by http://www.aboutasiatravel.com/. Explore Cambodia’s scenic spots, beaches and temples with the site’s tour packages. You can ask a quote for Cambodia’s ancient wonders in Angkor and Siem Reap, countryside visit in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Battambang. Visit Cambodia’s shorelines, lakes, mountains and rivers.

The Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia provides travelers with information about the country by visiting at http://www.tourismcambodia.org/. It provides travelers with an overview and provincial guide, information on how to get around in Cambodia, festivals and events, world heritage sites in Cambodia, weather and forecast, travel and tour agents, shopping, restaurants and hotels, leisure and transportation.

For valuable information about Cambodia, its history, economy, geography, visa application and a lot more, you may visit http://wikitravel.org/en/Cambodia. The site has a scam alert for would-be travelers because of the proliferation of syndicates that posed as travel agents. It says that always use US dollar when paying your visa at only $20 no more no less. If it exceeds that amount it is a scam. Please read the details on the website for your guidance.

If you want to be knowledgeable about Cambodia, try to visit http://www.canbypublications.com/ that provides you with information about travel guide being an online version of Cambodia’s The Phnom Penh Visitors Guide published by the Canby Publications. While the http://www.cambodia-tourism.org/ offers visitors with the same information on how to travel to Cambodia, which places to go and what to do and among others.

Whether you are a Cambodian citizen or a foreigner, it also pays to be well-informed about foreign relations by visiting http://www.cambodianembassy.org.uk/. This is an official website of the Royal Cambodian Embassy. It also provides information about travel and tour guides, tourism, economy, investment and the government in general.

The last but not the least, take time to visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_Cambodia to familiarize yourself about tourism annual statistics, the number of tourist arrivals and the site will link you to different information about art and culture, sports, tourist attractions, language, popular tourist destinations and visa policy.

How to Travel to Cambodia by Bus

Cambodia Bus

The roads leading to Cambodia’s provinces and cities have improved since the country’s door was opened to tourists in 1993. Travelers from Bangkok via Saigon, Bangkok to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, Saigon to Phnom Penh can either choose to travel by bus or by train as they find the road trip more interesting and exciting. Travelers from Europe can take the Trans-Siberian railway trip for diversion or may opt to travel by plane.

Traveling to the countryside is no longer tedious compared before as there are several bus companies that offer tour packages to tourists. Domestic travel includes trip from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh to Battambang, Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh to Kampot.

Tourists would love to travel to Cambodia by bus as they can enjoy the scenery and they can make a stopover if they need to have some photo shoots. You can pick an air conditioned or regular buses that connect from Phnom Penh to the provinces of Battambang, Kampot and Kep, as well as Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

Bus companies ply on a regular basis daily to take passengers to their desired destinations. The Mekong Express at http://catmekongexpress.com  and Giant Ibis at www.giantibis.com are the most preferred buses from the city of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap to Sihanoukville and vice versa.

The routes for regular buses also ply at night for those who travel during midnight or early morning to make use of their time during their day tour. If you want comfort during your trip, you can travel by deluxe buses that are usually provided by the Mekong Express and the Giant Ibis. These bus companies assure you of safe travel while sitting on a comfortable seat with music played throughout the journey.

Since they offer passengers with high standard service, the fare is a bit pricey compared to the regular bus trip. They provide passengers with a tour guide, on-board restroom and snacks to make the trip more comfortable and relaxing. You can arrange the bus tour through a travel agency or your hotel since they have direct access to the bus companies or you may directly buy the ticket at their offices. You can also book your bus via our hotels reception desk for your onward travel in Cambodia.

Bus companies have their own terminals in Phnom Penh and all you have to do is to go directly to their office or at the bus stops and parking lots on Sisowath Quay and Street 104. Some buses are found everywhere. You may also opt to ride in Phnom Penh Sorya Transport bus http://www.ppsoryatransport.com at their station near the Central Market.

The trip from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap starts from 6:45 am and every hour thereafter. They have the same schedule for the trip from Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham while the trip from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville starts at 7:00 in the morning and every hour thereafter.

Unlike in Phnom Penh, when you travel in the towns and provincial cities, you will arrive and depart in the same bus station which is centralized. In the province of Siem Reap, you will find the Chong Kov Sou bus station about 7 kilometers from the western portion of the city center. Motodups and tuk-tuks are at the station to greet newly-arrived passengers to bring you to your destination. You will pay about $1.50 to $2 for the motodup ride and $3 for the tuk-tuk ride.

Departing passengers can take the opportunity of boarding a shuttle bus ride which is offered free by most bus companies. If you will travel to Sihanoukville, the bus will arrive and depart from their station next to the Independence Square where hotels, guesthouses and beaches are concentrated. You may take a motodup for $1 to $3 or tuk-tuk for $4 to $6 to bring you to the city’s tourist spots and beaches.

The daily schedule from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Kampot-Kep, Koh Kong, Battambang, Kampong Cham, Kratie, Stung Treng, Banlung, Ratanakiri, Laos border, Sisophon, and Thai border and vice versa would depend on the bus companies and so with their fare rates. Their schedule is also subject to change so make sure you have done some research before starting your provincial trip.

For added information you may visit http://www.canbypublications.com/cambodia/buses.htm and http://www.seat61.com/Cambodia.htm for schedule updates or contact your travel agent for advisory.

Expat Restaurants in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh has become one of the exotic destinations for expats by offering better and new improved hotels, shops, restaurants where the past mingles with the present. During my visit, I found that most of the exciting places of Phnom Penh are influenced by the rich history of Cambodia. Phnom Penh is famous for its food varieties, ancient weaving techniques, French colonial architecture and natural surrounding beauties. 

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If you love to explore new exciting places like me, Phnom Penh will prove to be heaven for you. You can experience the beauty of nature at its best. The serene mountain hikes and relaxation in virgin beaches are just awesome. If you like to enjoy the taste of different kinds of foods from all over the world, the expat restaurants in Phnom Penh are the ultimate places for food lovers like you. They specialize in South East Asian cuisines and serve great continental food too.

Some Best Ex Pat Restaurants in Phnom Penh

The popular street food in Phnom Penh is mind boggling. The night market of Phnom Penh beside river comes up with plenty of food stalls that serve delicious and cheap local food. You can get a plate of fried noodles or grilled kebabs at a very unbelievable price. However, if you are looking for some authentic food in a nice and cozy atmosphere, you have to opt for expat restaurants in Phnom Penh. Almost all the high-end ex pat restaurants in Phnom Penh provides tantalizing food, drinks and amazing atmosphere to set your mood. I have visited several ex pat restaurants in Phnom Penh. Some of the memories which I continue to cherish are given below


Latin Quarter Restaurant

One of my favorite and one of the best ex pat restaurants in Phnom Penh is the Latin Quarter Restaurant. You should not miss the chance of enjoying great food in mesmerizing atmosphere. This one comes up with exciting menu card offering loads of food items in tapas, starters, main course, dessert, wine, cocktail and more. This ex pat restaurant in Phnom Penh is eminent for its Spanish, Italian and South American dishes. The charming set of the restaurant is situated in between the few remaining historic villas in Phnom Penh. You may need to reserve your seat in advance to avoid disappointment. You can even arrange any event or party in the Latin Quarter Restaurant.

Tepui

This restaurant housed in a 1940’s villa of a wealthy merchant. The picturesque beauty might allure you at the first sight. This one mainly serves Latin-Mediterranean food.

 

Gastrober Botanico

 

It is a well-known Latin American expat restaurant in Phnom Penh. The excellent food and drinks item of this place are cocktails and tapas. The environment of this restaurant is quite natural as it is set in a wonderful garden. The moment I entered there, I felt comfortable with its seating arrangement, music and food of course.

 

Armand’s Bistro

This one is famous for its private kind of atmosphere with three table facility, unique music and mind-blowing tenderloin Rossini topped with Courvoisier.

The above-mentioned information about ex pat restaurants should come handy if you decide to visit Phnom Penh.

Visiting the Killing Fields Phnom Penh

For the tourist interesting in getting around during their vacation and viewing the local sites Phnom Penh has a lot to offer. One of the places of interest that most tourists visit is the Killing Fields of Phnom Penh. This site is one of the most prolific sites in Cambodia and has left a mark on the history of the country. The Cambodian government urges tourists to visit the site when in Cambodia and has subsidised the prices of the visit to the site for a mere $6. 

The tour to the Killing Fields are led by Audio guides. Tourists were headsets and are guided through the fields while they listen intently to the story of the massacre of the innocent women, men and children. Tourists are also allowed to record the session. The tour guide will start by telling you to put on your headphones as he starts to relay the horrific details of the massacre. The tour is led down a pre set path. The tour leads to a central pit where bones of those tortured and killed are still visible. The next stop is at a tree of equal significance to the massacre. Lastly the tour guide takes the group to the final stop where the civilian villagers were put to their end. 

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A tour to the Killing Fields is definitely not a tourist attraction in true sense of the word "attraction". The tour to the site is definitely not for the faint at heart or for young children on tour with their parents. history buffs will gain a lot from the tour though. The tour is unlike others with a walk through a sanitized museum with artifacts on display. A tour of the Killing fields is walking through actual skulls and remains of innocent people who lost their lives. 

While on the audio tour in the Killing fields one can also enjoy the signs put up at each place of importance. Though these signs do not give too much of an insight into the history they compliment the narration of the tour guide. Tourists are also allowed to take pictures of the pictures put up at the tour sites. 

Tourists are known to have had emotional meltdowns when at the grave sites or as they go through the tour. The entire scene is horrific and if you are faint of heart ensure that you have tissue paper with you. At the grave site tourists are permitted to leave momentos like bracelets and friendship bands or tokens of love as an offering to those who lost their lives. Flowers and incense is offered at the grounds by most tourists as a peace offering. 

Booking a tour of the Killing Fields can be done at most hotels. Inquire at the Front Desk or Reception of the tours offered. Most hotels have associated with this tour and will be able to offer guests a great deal. Alternatively, one can book a tour at the site itself. The tour grounds are a mere 30 minutes ride by tuktuk from the city centre (where most tourists hotels are located). Once at the site book a tour with the guide or with at the booking office. 

While at the site beware of locals who often beg at the grave sites or at the fence. While this does take away from the tour it also is a reminder of the lives of the locals and the poor lifestyle prevalent to date. The entire tour lasts for 1.5 hours to 2 hours for those who choose to go through the entire tour and soak in all the details. The tour is offered in several different languages so one can rest assured that they can enjoy the narration of the tour in the language they are most comfortable in. 

The tour of the Killing Fields though one of the most common and popular tours booked by tourists is not a typical tour that leaves one in high spirits after; however it is one that offers an insight into reality of the recent past. Tourists travelling from the Americas and Europe and those who live generally sheltered lives surrounded by non violence tend to have a deeper sense of depression and apathy for the massacre and loss Cambodia suffered.

Visit S21 in Phnom Pehn

The S21 museum in Phnom Penh is like no other. It stands as a symbol of torture and terror to over 17000 persons who lost their lives with no reason. In 1975, a high school in Phnom Penh, the Svay Prey High School was taken over by the Khmer regime and turned into a prison known as Security prison or S21. The S21 is now turned into a museum named the Tuol Sleng Museum. It is open daily from 7 am to 1130 am and then from 2 pm to 530 pm. Entry to the museum is a mere $2 per person. 

S21

 

The Khmer regime was meticulous is documenting the interrogations of each of the 17,000 prisoners and even photographed each and every person before and after the torture session. One of the rooms in the museum pays tribute to these victims by displaying the pictures from the ceiling to the floor. Amongst the locals several American, Australian and French tourists were also detained at the site and their documents are displayed on the walls. While in the torture rooms pay close attention to the devices used to torture the living and eventually being them to their death. Also, put yourself in the photographers shoes and picture him taking pictures of those being tortured, young children being slaughtered, women with children in their arms being nailed and poked with torture devices and men being tortured for hours all while being photographed. 

Its amazing how a simple set up as a regular school with a play area turned to be the end for so many persons. What adds to the depression of the museum is the regular lay out, a regular suburban setting that was converted to a torture chamber. A visit to the location while in Phnom Penh is a great experience however it is not for the faint at heart. History buffs and those who have lost their loved ones in this massacre stand to gain a lot fro a visit to the site; however it leaves a sense of depression and uneasiness. 

Getting to the S21 can be arranged by most hotels. Speak with the front desk at the time of reservation or when you get there. Most hotels have arrangements with the locals tour guides and can make quick arrangements. For those looking to venture out and explore the city on their own one can do so by making arrangements with a tuk tuk. An average cost of $15 should get you from the city centre to the S21. Book a guide at the gate for a personal tour. Most guides have lost family in the S21 and they will not share personal information unless they are asked. Most will share the details of the tragedy and even point out the pictures on the wall of their family members. Though it is a loss close to their heart they prefer to share as they believe it is their way of ensuring the such tragedies are not repeated anywhere. 

For a complete experience get to the S21 by either 11 am or 3 pm . A film is run at these times with an in depth narration of the history of the S21. Tourists may also meet with the survivors of the tragedy at the site. It is a difficult ordeal for them to relay their stories on a daily basis, one can only imagine them having to relive the torture. While there is no official dress code for the visit dressing up respectfully will honor those who lost their lives. Speaking in lowered volumes and avoid laughing and banter while on site would be deemed as appropriate behaviour. 

A visit to the S21 is definitely not for all but it tells the story of the inhumane behaviour of the then leaders in Cambodia. To make the most of your tour it is important to get there for video time as well as get a guide for the tour. The guide will charge a mere $6 per group and it one of the best ways to make the most of your visit. Do a bit of personal research before you head to the site. Read of the history briefly before you go to the site or ask the hotel for any literature they may have on the history of the S21. Getting familiar with the events that occurred may help you to decide if this is the tour for you.