Killing Fields, Phnom Penh
Lying approximately 15km from central Phnom Penh in rural surroundings, I arranged a driver via the tour desk of my hotel.
I was shocked at how peaceful the place was, especially considering the mass genocide that took place here. Between 1975 and 1978, over 17,000 men, women and children were brought here to be executed. Many were bludgeoned to death to spare the expense of a bullet and the killing tree was the spot where executioners beat the children to death. Many of the mass graves have been excavated and the Memorial Stupa built in 1988 houses over 8000 skulls arranged in order of age and gender that are clearly visible through the glass panels. Remarkably, the site is peaceful and without the visible evidence everywhere, it would be hard to imagine the atrocities that took place here.
I wasn't sure where to put this as it is considered off the beaten path since it's about a 30minute Tuk Tuk ride away. However, it is a must do so it could have been listed under things to do as well.
The Killing Fields were a number of sites in Cambodia where large numbers of people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge regime, during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979. At least 200,000 people were executed by the Khmer Rouge (while estimates of the total number of deaths resulting from Khmer Rouge policies, including disease and starvation, range from 1.4 to 2.2 million out of a population of around 7 million). In 1979 Vietnam invaded the country, which at that time was officially called Democratic Kampuchea, and toppled the Khmer Rouge regime.
These type of places never leave me in a good mood. I find it horrible and disgusting and having also been to a couple of concentration camps in my time, this site falls into that same category. It just wasn't talked about as much, which is a shame.
The Killing Fields of Choeung Eik is one of the most chilling sights in Cambodia.
Prisoners from Tuol Sleng were trucked to Choeung Ek and were killed by smashing their skull with bamboo, knifes or swords. There are buried in mass shallow grave.
Walking in this ground where mass grave are is really very sad and eerie.
We took the tuk tuk here, it was a very long ride but it was worth it ...
Its a very quiet place now but I can imagine the cry of prisoners but I can't imagine what goes thru their mind in the last hour of their death.
betwen 1975 and 1978 about 17000 people had been brought in this killing field, many of them had been beaten to death, just to save shots.Now you only see a green field with some kids offering themselves for pictures and a huge monument full of skulls and pieces of clothes.
Actually I am not sure if this tip should be under off the beaten or under warning and danger, but, as usually I am not a warning person I will write here.Killing fields are about 15 kilometers from phon pen centre, wich may sound pretty close. Before going just bkeep in mind that most of those kilometers are in a country and extremely dusty road, wich means, that, if you like me, decide to go by motorbike, you will have to brath a lot of dust, and your white trousers will nicely become red once you are back in the centre!Kidding apart I stopped using motorbikes just for long trips, there is anarchy on these streets.
No where near all of the mass graves have been excavated. The central tower contains the skulls of those that have been excavated.
Please visit the travelogue for more images of this disturbing place.
All the victims of Tuol Sleng Prison were later sent to this camp for liquidation. Towards the end of 980, 86 out of the 129 mass graves were unearthed in this extermination camp and 8,985 corpses were found (The Killing Fields).
A stupa has been erected to preserve their remains and to commemorate the death of the Kampuchea people under Pol Pot Regime.
Within the memorial rows of piled skulls bring the home the tradegy of these people.
Some of the victims were killed and buried at Toul Sleng but most were driven at night by truck to Choeung Ek. Some were told to dig their own graves before being clubbed to death with any heavy object that was available.
There are still large pits where the graves were unearthed.
On May 9th every year a memorial service is held at the stupa in memory of the estimated 1.7 million people who died during the genocide.
The sign says....
'The extermination camp Choeung Ek is about 15km from Phnom Penn int he south west. It implicated in the organisation of the biggest security centre of Kampuchea Dedmocratic in Pol Pot Regime under the name S.21.S.21 had its headquarter at Tuol Sleng Prison. All the victims (peasants, workers, intellectuals, ministers, Khmer Diplomats, foreigners, women, children...) detained and tortured during interrogating at Tuol Sleng were later sent to Choeung Ek for liquidation. A lot of population and Pol Pot soldiers of the eastern zone were also sent there since May 1978. Towards the end of 1980, 86 out of 129 mass graves were unearthed in this extermination camp and 8,985 corpses were found.
A stupa has been erected to preserve their remains and also to commemorate the death of the Kampuchea people under Pol Pot Regime.'
This sign marks the site of one of the mass graves that were unearthed.
After all the traffic and trouble of getting out of Phnom Penh, the shaded and quiet red dirt road that leads to the Killing Fields is a real treat. It allows for views of 'eternal Asia': people riding bicycles, a man using his ox to plough a field, or people sitting in the shade.
To get off the beaten track, and as recommended in my transport tip, hire a motorcycle, or even a bicycle, and you won't regret the independance it provides along with a different view on the country.