Day 62: Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, Phnom Penh
Claire: Today was another early start as we jumped on a tuktuk to head 45mins out the city to Choeung Ek, otherwise known as the Killing Fields. Visiting the museum early yesterday meant we escaped the bus load of tourists so we decided to do the same here which I'd thoroughly recommend to anybody who plans to visit. It also means we escape the midday sun!
Having another audio guide meant we could immerse ourselves into the site. A lot of things are no longer there, but the detailed audio and paintings/photographs really help you envision the scene. As a lot of the buildings were made from wood, after the fall of Khmer Rouge they were dismantled and taken by locals — a necessity to survive (as they had nothing), but also through anger over what had happened.
Over 17,000 people who were detained and tortured at S-21 were bought here to be killed. As we learnt the horrific happenings of what went on here we see the mass grave sites where if you look close you can still see bits of clothing. I found it particularly difficult seeing the Killing Tree where executors would beat children :(
Listening to the horrors of what happened here we stroll around the site which is a very peaceful place today.
Choeung Ek is just one of the thousands of mass graves in Cambodia made by the Khmer Rouge. Over 8000 skulls are organised by age and sex in glass cabinets in the Memorial Stupa. 43 of the 129 graves here have been left untouched.
After uncovering the tragic past of Cambodia these past few days we both left feeling a bit sad, but we are glad we came. Not all experiences have to be happy right?! We feel very lucky for the world we live in.
Having returned to the city we've tracked down a lovely organic restaurant for this evening called Farm to Table. It has a luscious garden, a delicious menu, excellent wines and also some live acoustic as it's Friday!
Gav's day 62 takeaway
- Claire was on tuk tuk bargaining duty this morning and she did an excellent job of being only vaguely interested in using their service. We've learnt that being nonchalant towards any potential deal usually puts you in a good place.
- We secured a young Cambodian Johnny Depp as our driver for the morning. We're were the coolest tuk tuk around.