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Haunting morning at the Killing fields

This museum is definitely one of the hardest places to visit in the world. Its easy for me to get detached when visiting depressing places but here, they give you a personal audio guide which just makes any kind of indifference impossible. In the mid-70's, Cambodia fell under the regime of Khmer Rouge. For a period of about 2-3 yrs there were mass executions against their fellow Cambodians. 1 out of 4 Cambodians died- about 2M people. (Yes I know there was also the Nazis, but lets keep this about Cambodians).
Highlights: Learning about the chilling dark history of Cambodia.
Cast of Characters: I joined a tour organized by the place I was staying at (Sunday guesthouse). There were 5 of us. I didn't really make very good friends that day as we were all very somber & depressed from the museums. The trip is easy enough to make on your own. There's motorbikes that can take you anywhere for cheap.
Logistics/ Links:
When: Went for a visit around late February 2012. Weather was pretty warm. The Killing fields museum is a large open air field where you walk around while listening to the audio guide. There's seats & shady trees around.
Location: Choeung Ek Genocidal Center (a.k.a. The Killing fields), Phnom Penh Cambodia
Cost: $3 shared tuktuk museum tour; $5 museum entrance fee
Trip Report: Cambodia has got to be the most beaten up country I have ever visited. They have had more bombs dropped on them (thanks USA) than Hiroshima (thanks USA). Vietnam also has been through hell (thanks USA) but they're pretty tough & seem to have bounced back ok. The trip to the Killing fields & Tuol Sleng stayed in my mind well after my SE Asia jaunt. I am just so glad Philippines did not have as dark of a history as these guys did. The place is definitely worth a visit. It took about 30mins or so to get there & maybe 1.5hrs to explore the place.

Start of the audio tour. In 1975 Pol Pot overtook the current regime (from Lon Nol who the people despised). Cambodians thought this was the start of something better. They went to the streets rejoicing the arrival of Khmer Rouge(KR). In like 3 days, they were told they needed to leave their homes  because the Americans were gonna bomb them (Americans were carpet bombing most of the country during the time). Those who refused to leave the cities were killed by KR.

Mass grave of 450 victims

Mass grave of women & children

During the trial of the head of the Killing fields (Duch), he was brought back to the site. He remained impassive until they arrived at this spot. This is where he broke down in tears & asked for forgiveness. This is where the executioners held babies by the feet & smashed their heads against the tree to kill them (& save on ammo).

The victims arrived in trucks every day. After being imprisoned in Tuol Sleng, they were told they are being transported to some other housing. They were tied up & gagged. They were killed as soon as they got to the fields.

Mass graves. In the Tuol Sleng museum, you'll see images of victims bones tied up just piled on top of each other. They would spray chemicals in the pits to try to remove the stench & also to make sure there were no survivors buried.

This was one of the freakiest spots for me. They hung speakers blaring out loud propaganda music (sounds like traditional Cambodian music) on the tree branches so the victims would not hear all the screaming & crying going on. The audio tour gave a sample clip of what it was like. It was soo freaky. It was just the music combined with the machine hum of the generator. This was the last sound the victims heard.

The victims skulls were arranged according to age

Tower of skulls literally

Well, this was just a preview of the horrors of their history. Its insane what mankind can be capable of. The place is definitely worth a visit. Their lives a testimony of what we should strive against.

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