Killing Fields of Choeung Ek
After arriving in the afternoon we took a short nap. We woke up refreshed and went out to grab some dinner. We walked around to look for a place to eat, the Riverside is full of pub and restaurants. It was not the safest thing to do but we managed to find ourselves an area where there are a lot of restaurants and tourist walking around. Our first itinerary the next day is to visit the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.
We woke up early and had some breakfast at a restaurant across the street. We waited for the tuk tuk driver we met yesterday who agreed to take us around. To our surprise, we were informed that he can’t make it so he sent another driver. We were a bit disappointed since the new driver was not less engaging and he speaks just a little English.
As planed, are tour started at The killing fields (Choeung Ek ),Genocide museum ( Toul Sleng) ,the Royal Palace and ends at Wat Phnom. We paid 50 USD for 3 people (17 USD each). Riding the tuk tuk was fun and fast, but it’s open so be ready to face dust and pollution. Our driver bought surgical masks which we used during the trip. The roads are dusty so it’s a must to have your masks on.
Choeung Ek is the infamous killing fields of the Khmer Rouge. At the entrance we paid the fee and we were given a headset and walk-man like gadget. It’s like an audio tour guide and available in different languages.
At the center is a Stupa, which has the skulls and bones of the victims . Visiting the place was emotionally draining experience, it makes you question humanity. The fields are full of “graves”, where hundreds men,women and children were executed and buried. There is a tree where heads of infants were smashed to its trunks. Some bones and artifacts still finds its way up to the surface especially during the rainy season. Before we left we offered some prayers to all the victims and hopefully they could all rest in peace.
Toul Sleng was a high school building which was converted by the Khmer Rouge as detention and torture center. The classrooms were subdivided into small cells. Some rooms also have the original equipment used to torture and kill people. It is almost impossible to imagine how people can inflict this atrocities to their fellow human beings. Both sites now seek to teach people about the past horror so it is not repeated. After Visiting Choeung Ek and Toul Sleng, it reminds us that this should never happen again.
Below is a quote from a survivor, Dith Pran, his experience was dramatized in the 1984 move “The Killing Fields”:
“It is important for me that the new generation of Cambodians and Cambodian Americans become active and tell the world what happened to them and their families … I want them never to forget the faces of their relatives and friends who were killed during that time. The dead are crying out for justice.”
— Introductory note “Children of Cambodia’s Killing Fields: Memoirs by Survivors.”