Visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum- Where The Cambodian Sorrow Is Hidden

Visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum- Where The Cambodian Sorrow Is Hidden

Tuol Sleng is a notable dark tourism stop in Southeast Asia which is one of the destinations in Southeast Asia package tours saving the painful and cruel memories touching your heart. This place is an important site to visit to have a deeper understanding of what the Cambodian people have been through in the past.

Where is Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum located

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a museum in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, where the memories in the darkest period of the Cambodian history  of the Cambodian genocide is kept. This museum used to be a high school before it was used as Security Prison 21 or S-21 by the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979. Tuol Sleng means "Hill of the Poisonous Trees" or "Strychnine Hill" in the Khmer language. This prison was just one of 150 execution centers set up by the Khmer Rouge. Within only 4 years, there were over 20.000 people kept in this prison. On July 2010, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia convicted Kaing Kek Lew, the head of Tuol Sleng Prison, for crimes against humanity and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

How to get in Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

The tuk-tuk tour of Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum will pick you up to visit the remainder of the cruelty of Pol Pot where the thousand innocent people were killed or abused to the death 40 years ago. The museum opens from 7.00 to 11.30 in the morning and from 2.00 to 5.30 in the afternoon. Except for Sunday, the museum opens to welcome visitors every day in the week. The fee entrance is $2 but it might be higher. It is the perfect tour for the education and history exploring.

Tuol Sleng- From the high school to the prison

The museum used to be a high school under the name of the Chao Ponhea Yat High School which was named after a royal ancestor of King Norodom Sihanouk. There are five buildings in the school completed in August 1975 which was only four months after the Khmer Rouge defeated the Cambodian Civil War. The Khmer Rouge turned it into a prison and interrogation center. They renamed the school into Security Prison 21 or S-21 and the construction began to rebuild and adapt to fit the functions of the prison. The buildings were covered around by a net of the electrified barbed wire, the classrooms were divided into the small rooms and converted into tiny prison and torture chambers and all windows were covered with the iron bars and barbed wire to prevent escapes and suicides.

The-collection-of-kulles-in-Tuol-Sleng-museum

The collection of kulles in Tuol Sleng museum

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum- The evidence of the cruel Khmer Rouge

The first thing you can see from the outside of the museum is it is just like the other old schools in Cambodia. Yet all of the obsession just begins. From an ordinary high school in downtown Phnom Penh, it became a notorious prison during the Khmer Rouge regime. It was the place that prisoners were sent after their arrest, interrogated, tortured and forced to live in hard conditions.

Forced to admit guilt that they never know, most of the people were sent to Choeung Ek and never had a chance to go out. There were more than 20,000 prisoners passed through these doors and the museum holds back the memories of the darkest time in the heart of people who used to live under the control of the Khmer Rouge. No one nowadays knows how it terrifying was.

Similar to the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge kept detailed records of each prisoner and these are shown on the walls of the museum. From the very first days of the prison through tiny rooms in which the prisoners were forced to live to the final days of the regime, they had to live and die with all the pain of body and soul. It is better to take a round through each room to see out the cruelty of the Khmer Rouge, and it seems like the hundreds of innocent Cambodian eyes following us. The black and white portraits on the museum walls feature the men, women, and children, most of them were executed by many different terrible ways under the hand of the cold-blood forces.

We recommend you to hire a guide in the tours of Cambodia to have a direct insight into some of the stories behind the photographs. You can also read the stories of Chum Mey and Vann Nath, they are only two prisoners who survived Tuol Sleng through their skills, and you can see them by chance in the courtyard talking to visitors.

After visiting this museum, you will feel the sorrow covering the atmosphere and your heart will be so heavy. However, it is essential to know a true understanding of the brief but brutal Khmer Rouge regime, and its lasting impact on modern Cambodia today.

Perhaps Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is not an interesting place for those who seek for the entertaining activities but it is worth to visit once to know more about the painful pages in the history of the world. If this information is useful for you, feel free to contact us. Thank you!

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