The killing fields Cambodia
Not everyone has head of the “Khmer Rouge regime” or Pol Pot. But for many Cambodians these names has a complete different meaning.
We spent a month in Phnom Penh and decided to learn more about Cambodian culture and history. We saw advertisement all over Phnom Penh about this Killing Field. First I thought, why would I want to go and see a big field? it’s just a field? Nothing educational about it. But as we googled our way to information about the Phnom Penh Killing fields we found out theat there is so much more to this sight than you might imagine.
This is what Tourism Cambodia writes about The killing fields Cambodia:
“Between 1975 and 1978, about 17,000 men, women, children and infants (including nine westerners) detained and tortured at S-21 prison (now Tuol Sleng Museum), were transported to the extermination to death to avoid wasting precious bullets.The remains of 8985 people, many of whom were bound and blindfolded, were exhumed in 1980 from mass graves in this one-time long an orchard; 43 of the 129 communal graves here have been left untouched. Fragment of Human bone and bits of cloth are scattered around the disinterred pits. Over 8000 skulls, arranged by sex, are visible behind the clear glass panels of the Memoral Stupa, which was erected in 1988.The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek are 15 km from Central Phnom Penh. To get there, take Monireth Blvd south-westward out of the city from the Dang Kor Market bus depot. The site is 8.5 km from the bridge near 271 St.”
The killing fields cambodia where used during the Khmer Rouge regime and Pol Pots rule over Cambodia. many Cambodians has lost one or several family members here.
We went there when we had the hottest day during our stay in Phnom Penh ever. After a 25 minute TukTuk ride on a long dirt road we arrived at the entrance. We told our driver that we would be back in a couple of hours and he promised to wait for us there. And we went inside. We could choose from an audio tour or no audio tour. Since Leonardo was the one filming and I was documenting I took an audio tour for 9 USD. We met a friend from India there also who joined us.
The tour is set along the different buildings and graves that once were here. Some still remain and you can see the overgrown graves still. The different sights are numbered so it made it easy to follow and for me to translate to Leonardo and our new friend. A big memorial building stands in the middle of the sight with skulls, tolls and remains from those who died. It is a chock to see all who lost their lives here and it is hard to really grasp what took place.
As we walked further into the fields we came across a tree, the killing tree. The man on the audio explained that this tree was used for captured children. Children? we thought.
Soldiers used the tree to beat up and throw babies and younger children by their feet into the tree. Torturing them to near death or death. Their mothers backbound on their knees forced to watch. If they didn’t die from the torture they would die from the chemicals used to kill off “the rest” as the audio explained.
It is a very strange feeling walking around the killing fields. It is such a calm and peaceful place almost like a quiet park or a graveyard. And you feel at ease but at the same time uncomfortable knowing what happened here.
The locals believe that the spirit of the dead still remain at the killing fields. Remains like teeths, bones and clothes keep emerging from the soil after heavy rain or flood. There are some sights where you still can see teeth and bone fragments if you stop and look closely.
It truly was educational and cultivating at the same time.