S21 prison processed over 17,000 people for extermination. Today, it is one of Cambodia’s most popular destinations. Is visiting distasteful or important?
There are some sights you likely see only once. Places like Petra, Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat are so grand, exotic and expensive, they are the very definition of a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.
Other sights are seen once because once is enough; places like Dachau concentration camp in Germany or S21 prison in Cambodia.
It was discomfiting then to find myself at the gates of S21 prison for the second time in five years. My first visit in 2011 had been harrowing enough. We had evaded an overzealous tour guide and journeyed through the former prison alone – a sobering experience I wasn’t sure I wanted to repeat.