"A SOCIETY CANNOT KNOW ITSELF IF IT DOES NOT HAVE AN
For the recent water festival celebration, I decided to leave Phnom Penh for the beautiful beaches of Sihanoukville. I reluctantly booked a hotel that was rumored to have ghosts. A local once said to me, "don’t ever go there, it is haunted." I thought to myself, of course, I would never stay there. But I did.
As we pulled up to the Independence Hotel, (7 story hotel or Ghost Hotel as the locals call it), I was captivated by the beautiful ocean views and pristine modern accommodation. But part of me also felt extremely anxious about the rumors and questioned the sanity of my decision to stay in a haunted place. The hotel was rumored to have been used by the Khmer Rouge as a torture center. New windows, bright curtains, and retro decoration strived to erase its’ dark past.
Yet, I was determined to overcome my fear. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this tragic fact. The country is full of ghosts. Full of restless spirits wandering aimlessly without peace, without a final resting place to heal and move on. The sad reality of it is, there is no part of Cambodian land that is without the scourge of the Khmer Rouge brutality. These lost souls still ache for some semblance of justice, still yearn for peace, and still seek a dignified tribute.