Killing Fields, Phnom Penh
After the victims were tortured and interrogated at Toul Sleng Security Prison 21, the Khmer Rouge then sent them to the Cheung Ek Killing Fields, located 19 Km by a 20-minute drive from Phnom Penh for execution.
At the Killing Fields, visitors can see massive graves together with cracked skulls of men, women and children exhumed from 129 mass graves.
It is estimated that around 40,000 Cambodians were murdered at Cheung Ek between 1975-1978.
The site can be very disturbing and is not recommended for those who are shocked easily.
Note: Both Tuol Sleng Museum and the Killing Fields exhibits may be disturbing for some and aren't suitable for younger children and adults who are easily shocked.
Killing Fields of Cheung Ek is situated 15 kilometers south-west of Phnom Penh and made famous by the film of the same name "Killing Field". it was a place where more than 17,000 civilians were killed and buried in mass graves; many of them transported here after detention and torture in Toul Sleng. This place is a chilling reminder of the brutalities of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. In the center of the area is a 17 story glass stupa which houses 8000 skulls exhumed from mass graves.
Mass graves containing 8,895 bodies were discovered at Choeung Ek after the fall of the Khmer Rouge with many of the dead being former inmates in the Tuol Sleng prison in the city. They were marched all the way here before their fateful end.
Open daily. Admission: $2.
Gruesome? Yes. Sad? The worst! Should I go ? Absolutely!
This is no doubt one of those places that shows mankind at its worst. Its hauntingly quiet here .No fancy displays. 1975-1979 too close for comfort and my senses couldn't take it all in.
Behind glass there are 8000 human skulls ,men women and babies. This stomach churning reality will live on in my dreams.
I wondered ,if the bones should have been buried ,out of respect ? But so important is their story ,I think they are here to ensure we listen. There plea to stop this kind of brutality willlive on with all who visit this sad corner of Cambodia.
Admission $2.00 .Guide $5.00 ( recommended)
CHOEUNG EK Located outside Phnom Penh is the notorious Choeung Ek prison and its grounds now known as the "Killing Fields"..to visit here one gets the same emptiness that is felt when visiting the "S21 Khmer Rouge Prison" of "Tuol Sleng" in Phnom Penh City..This is a place knowing no bounds of barbarity , where many thousands of prisoners were bought from S21 by trucks in the middle of the night to hide the activities and to be then killed and buried in mass graves.129 mass graves were found here..and over 8,000 human skulls recovered .There is a museum here that is a final a tribute to the victims...and a large glass tower in the middle of the grounds known as a" Memorial Charnel" built in 1988 that is filled with human skulls bearing testimony to the barbarity of the Pol Pot Khmer regime that lasted from 1975 till 1979 unchecked by foreign governments and encouraged by some ..This Charnel is built to remember the many victims that met their cruel demise in the genocide that was dicovered here..There is an admission charge and Visitors are asked to either buy some flowers, light some incense or a candle before starting your visit here...all contributions go to helping developement and conservation of the site and also sposoring poor and talented students. A very sad experience..
OVER 20,000 people were killed here and more than three million throughout the country.
History cannot be ignored , for those who ignore History are destined to relive it
Choeung Ek, 15 kilometres from Phnom Penh, is Cambodia's best known killing field, although many do not realise that this was just one of the many that dot the country. This is where the Khmer Rouge regime executed about 17,000 people between 1975 and 1979. Mass graves containing 8,895 bodies were discovered at Choeung Ek after the fall of the Khmer Rouge with many of the dead being former inmates in the Tuol Sleng prison in the city. They were marched all the way here before their fateful end.
Today, Choeung Ek is a memorial, marked by a Buddhist stupa. The stupa has glass sides and is filled with more than 5,000 human skulls and items of clothing. Some of the lower levels are opened during the day so that the skulls can be seen directly. Surrounding this are the remains of the mass graves which are now just hollows in the ground. There are some information boards in English which explain exactly what happened here and, needless to say, it's a very moving place. I took a return tuk-tuk from the city for $7 and also visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum on the way back.
The killing fields are in the outskirts of Phnom Penh and one of the many places where thousands of people were executed by the khmer rouge.
The people who got executed were mostly clubbed with wooden poles or hacked to death with various agricultural instruments and the executers were mainly teenagers.
Today you can wander around the massgraves where you still might see a bone sticking out here and there and you will still see many pieces of clothing sticking out of the ground that belonged to the executed people.
There is a pagoda build in the middly of the place where they have placed several thousand skulls inside of the dead bodies they found at the killing fields after the khmer rouge regime fell.
At the Choeung Ek "Killings Fields", you can learn all about Pol Pot and the atrocities he committed against his fellow countrymen who went against his regime. The centrepiece of the site is a memorial stupa which is filled with over 10,000 victims' skulls. You can wander through the site and see what happened there; there are information boards and photos to look at.
Any visit to Cheung Ek (killing fields) must be paired with a visit to the Tuol Sleng museum and the two together will definately gain you some new perspective. The 'killing fields' was the location that the Khmer Rouge would take the prisoners of the Tuol Sleng to be executed and buried. It is a harrowing site. I definately appreciate the freedom I enjoy more, and appreciate my fortunes in life.
The site itself is not well maintained, and rumors have it that the government sold it to a Japanese company. The main object is the tower of skulls in the middle, with the fields surrounding. Shards of clothes lie around which they say are the clothes of some of the victims.
I have also listed this in the 'tourist traps' section, but when you land in Phnom Penh airport taxi's will offer their services to you at very inflated prices!! Don't accept them!! REmember that you can hire a tuk tuk for 15$ a day to take you anywhere you want for an entire day, including the killing fields, don't get scammed at the airport by drivers who know you might be a little naive to the market. It is a dirty, bumpy road out there so a taxi might be more comfortable.
May I also add that any visit to Cambodia isn't complete without reading any book detailing the history of Cambodia, at least of the Pol Pot regime for additional assistance in appreciating what went on here. I read "First They Killed My Father; A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers", by Loung Ung. Books are readily for sale by vendors in Cambodia, but may be better served to have been read before you come to these sites for further appreciation.
Also be aware that there is an orphange near the site and lots of sad looking kids will harass you for money, or get you to take a picture of them to demand money, what you do is up to you.
I HAVE TO BE UP FRONT AND SAY THAT THIS IS A PACE THAT I REALLY HAD TO SEE ON MY TRIP TO PHNOM PENH, I KNOW THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE DONT GO HERE FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER BUT I FELT THAT NOT TO GO WOULD HELP COVER UP A PIECE OF CAMBODIAN HISTORY. THIS PIECE OF CAMBODIAN HISTORY IS A VERY DARK ONE INDEED..BETWEEN 1975 AND 1978 UPWARDS OF 17.000 MEN WOMEN AND CHILDREN WERE BROUGHT HERE FROM S21 TO BE PUT TO DEATH.. IN MOST CASES THEY WERE HIT OVER THE HEAD WITH A SPADE THEN HAD THEIR THROATS CUT, ALL THIS TO SAVE BULLETS !!
THIS ONE TIME ORCHARD IS NOW THE LAST RESTING PLACE FOR THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE..
43 OF THE 129 COMMUNAL GRAVES HAVE BEEN LEFT UNTOUCHED.
THERE IS EVEN A TREE THAT WAS USED TO BEAT AND KILL BABIES AGAINST.. THE KHMER ROUGE WOULD HANG SPEAKERS FROM TREES AND PLAY LOUD MUSIC TO DROWN OUT THE SCREAMS OF THE DYING.
EVEN TODAY AS YOU WALK AROUND THE BURIAL PITS IT IS STILL POSSIBLE TO SEE FRAGMENTS OF HUMAN BONE..SENDS A SHIVER DOWN THE SPINE.
THE MEMORIAL STUPA AT THE ENTRANCE HOLDS MORE THAN 8000 SKULLS, ARRANGED IN AGE AND BY SEX. THIS MONUMENT AND THIS PLACE AS A WHOLE SPEAKS FOR ITSELF.
WHAT REALLY STRUCK ME WAS THE FACT THAT WHILE ALL THIS HORROR WAS GOING ON I WAS AT HOME PLAYING, ENJOYING A NORMAL CAREFREE CHILDHOOD.. MAKES YOU THINK.
TODAY THE KILLING FIELDS AT CHOEUNG EK ARE AT PEACE.. BUT THE HOROR OF WHAT WENT ON HERE MUST NEVER EVER BE FORGOTTEN.
Visit to Tuol Sleng is depressing enough but experience to killing field is profoundly awful and melancholy.
Choeung Ek was an orchard and chinese cemetary. it located 15km southeast of Phnom Pehn. Prisoners despite of age were forced to match to the extermination camp. in order to save bullets and limitted places to keep prisoners, many were exhumed in mass graves in 1976-1979.
the first monument which lay in front of my eyes was the glass tower which displayed more than 8 thousand skulls arranged by sex and age. the memorial stupa was eracted in 1988. i have paid my respect with jossticks/incense served infront of the tower.
43 of the 129 communal graves here have been left untouched. fragments of human bones and bits of cloth are scattered around the pits.
the route in the genocide centre as follow:-
memorial charnel house - truck stop - dark and gloomy prison - executioners' office - concrete hall since 1960s - poison (DDT) storeroom - torturing tools storeroom - normal mass graves - mass graves with 116 headless bodies - mass graves with over 100 children and women's bodies - killing tree (tools to kill children) - magic tree (where a loud speaker was hung to mute moaning) - general mass graves.
it's about 20 - 40 mins drive from the centre of the city. you can get there with motor taxi, cyclo, car or bus)
Entrance fee: USD3 (sponsor for the poor and talented students)
Open hour: 8am - 5pm everyday
**it's a little creepy to visit the killing field in the evening, in my humble opinion
Located some distance from town, I took a motorcycle on a very bumpy and dusty ride.
Another tragic place where you can walk around to see the mass graves. There is a constructed glass tower to show the skulls and bones and clothes of the victims.
Amazing sad reminder of what horror what humans can do inhumane things to others.
Visiting Cambodja it worths going to the capital Phnom Penh, even if only to visit the "killing fields", and "national museum", which gives an impressive idea of their recent tragedy and an understanding of this suffered people.
A trip to the Killing Fields is a remarkably sobering experience. There is an eerie uneasiness to the place even on a beautiful warm sunny day with many people around.
Much seems to have been left untouched, my assumption was for impact. There are bone fragments, teeth, pieces of clothing and other debris, embedded in some of the very trails you walk on touring the place. The stupa or monument displaying all the skulls has a very narrow walkway around the glass and sometimes open display, forcing you, especially as you walk around the corners, to almost touch it. Very grotesque to say the least, at first an eye opening shock, it gradually develops into a mind numbing experience.
The fact that the whole world, and especially the developed western world, could stand by and allow this to happen and, in some circles today actually deny or even ignore that it has happened, is a strong statement of the reality of just how enlightened mankind really is.Many of the free world intelligentsia openly applauded when Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge in the mid 70's. The fact that many of these same people to this day seem unable to acknowledge, much less accept the magnitude of the horror that followed speaks volumes of man's inability to learn from past experiences. Ignoring it will not make it go away. Ignoring it will ensure that it repeats.
A trip to the Killing Fields is a very sobering experience. I left the Killing Fields ashamed to be a member of the human race.
The Killing Fields - the place where Pol Pot slaughtered his people without mercy in their thousands and buried them in mass graves.
After prisoners had been detained, starved, tortured and interrogated at S-21 they were trucked out to Choeung Ek to be killed by smashing their skulls with hoes or canes or to be stabbed with knives or swords to save using bullets which were deemed to be too expensive. Babies were killed by being tossed in the air toward the pit and lanced on the ends of rifles on the way through. They were also killed by being held by the feet and their heads smashed against a tree. Such vile acts are incomprehensible, particularly when you consider many of the killers were teenagers who killed their own family and friends.
The Killing Fields is such a sobering experience. There is a stupa at the fields which contains some of the skulls recovered from the graves to serve as a tribute and a reminder of such an evil era. It is doubly tragic when you look around and see maimed and limbless mine victims begging for money along with street children who are legacies of Pol Pot's regime.
You will also see the palm which is considered a symbol of Cambodia. Its fronds are very strong with large saw-like teeth along the stem. Pol Pot's guards used these sharp "saws" to torture their victims by sawing it back and forth to slowly cut their throats. It is the second national symbol that was used against the Cambodian people. The other is Angkor Wat which he blew up parts of to sell off, amongst other monuments. Pol Pot was consumed with starting back at zero. He wanted to erase every last vestige of the Cambodian culture, knowledge and history.
My advice is that if you intend to visit the Killing Fields, watch the movie or read about it before you go, I wished I did. It would have given a greater understanding.
A bit outside of Phnom Penh are the killing fields. Mass graves for innocent victim, e.g they who spent time in Tuol Sleng. We thought Tuol Sleng was very impressive, but to see the Killing Fields, you are speechless how cruel human mankind can be. I feel sorry for the Cambodians, such a wonderful, loving nation.