A Tough Place to Visit

Typically we've gone to places where you leave with a smile on your face, Tuol Sleng isn't one of those places. I decided to explore this site alone since Abby had visited it about 8 years ago and didn't feel she needed to go again. Before going I didn't quite grasp the full extent of why she didn't want to return, now I perfectly understand.

I hopped on the back of a moto-taxi, a.k.a. the back of a scooter, and told the guy to take me to Tuol Sleng, 3000 reil ($.75) later I was at the barbed wire gates of Tuol Sleng. In a one sentence overview: Tuol Sleng was a high school that was used as a prison by the Khmer Rouge during the mid to late 1970's and is now a museum of the genocidal acts that took place there. Even knowing that I don't think I was completely prepared for how I would feel seeing the place.

In 'Building A' there are 10 rooms similar to the one above. They were former classrooms that the Khmer Rouge used to torture prisoners. I visited each room and just stood there with an indescribable wave of emotions passing over me. The place just had a very erie feeling about it. Maybe it was the lack of people visiting at this time or the fact that a lot of the rooms were left very similar to the way they were found, but it just had a very strange sense about it.

I continued to wander through the other buildings (4 in total; Building A, B, C, D). Building A and those first few rooms were the most intense for me, followed by the cells where the inmates were kept.

All things considered I'm glad I was able to experience this place and I hope that it will make us all learn from it.


  1. did you do any post processing editing of these photos? if not, it's fitting seeing the clouds overhead casting the gloomy effect over a building with such a morbid history. the tortune room also has such an erie look to it, i wonder if that's representative of the look naturally, or has some post processing effect further communicating the bizarre ambience.

  2. The color photos were processed using a technique called HDR (high dynamic range, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_dynamic_range_imaging) and some addition processing to convey to the viewer how the setting felt. If the images are conveying an erie, morbid, gloomy or bizarre feeling then that is exactly what it's like being there. The clouds that day really did feel gloomy, the HDR just increased that.