210 Kms from Kampong Phulk
Cambodia has a difficult and painful history of genocide in the not-so-distant past. Between 1975-1979 almost 3 million out of 8 million Cambodians died of starvation or were killed by the Khmer Rouge. Note of caution: I was prepared for what was to come since I had read up about the genocide but it was still very depressing and emotionally taxing. At the gates of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum or S-21 prison we paid 6 $ each and got audio head sets, players and a map each. To see this building from the outside nobody would dream of the nightmarish atrocities that happened inside it. The audio tour is a good investment as it takes visitors through numbered points in the school-turned-prison building. Our minds numb with the horrors of history we had just witnessed, we set off for the next destination: The Killing Fields. This is the mass grave-site where prisoners from S-21 were taken and killed. The main structure here is a memorial built in traditional Khmer style housing hundreds of human skulls and bones that were found there. There is an audio tour here too which explains what happened here and there is a short video that is played for 10 minutes every half hour for visitors.
290 Kms from Kampong Phulk
Pakse is supposedly the fourth largest city of Laos. That’s not saying much considering Vientiane is so sleepy that you barely remember it’s a capital city. It is located 670km away from Vientiane and is nestled along the Sedon River and the mighty Mekong. The town itself is quite cute, with wide roads, open spaces, and actual footpaths you can use, though most are very dusty and muddy and being Laos, there are a few holes in the ground and rogue metal railings poking out so watch your step. Pakse is the logical gateway to the South of Laos, and is primarily used as a base to see the surrounding Bolaven plateau, the Khmer temples, and most famous of all, the 4,000 islands (Si Phan Don).