The Killing Fields

I love touring and sightseeing. I don't hesitate to visit an interesting place twice if there's a chance. But I am not visiting this place again even if you paid me to do it.

Cheong Ek Genocidal Center in a distance

After many whispers of wows at the splendor of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, my companions and I proceeded to Phnom Pehn. I was kicking to finally see the Killing Fields. "This is it," I mused as my 12-year old self: "those rows of 'cabbages' (skulls) in a documentary with John Lennon singing Imagine, now the Killing Fields for real." We then started exploring.

At first I thought this was an old pigsty. What we saw were...

And that was when we fell silent -

especially when we realized that much of the ground is still strewn with clothes of victims.

 more clothes

'Truck Stop:' "place where trucks transporting victims to be exterminated from Toul Sleng Prison, stopped."

Truly depressing. I wanted to get out as much as I was in a hurry to get in at the beginning of the tour. 

"'Killing Tree' (left) against which executioners beat children.  'Magic Tree' (right) where a loudspeaker was hung to muffle victims' screams."

Did they say children?!? I fought back tears while reading the signs. 

Some skulls showed signs of bashing. They have forensic shots of those in the Center (top photo). Our quiet chat branched out to Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot's cousins - butchers Idi Amin, Milosevic, Saddam, Hitler... ethnic cleansing :(

While trying to be brave in front of these skulls, I wondered about the kind of tour I got myself into. Did I just pay to be subjected to something so raw as hell on earth?

I like to think I learned something out of such an experience.

'shelves' of skulls at the stupa


  1. Such an overwhelmingly sad place. That last photo is an incredible sight.

  2. a place that holds so many sad memories.

  3. oh what a horrible place and horrible testimony to the tragedy and madness of man to his fellow man. It fills me with sadness even to see it on your blog. That we are capable of doing this to one another is something that we as human beings need to be aware of. History repeats itself again and again and yet we turn the other way and pretend it could never happen where we live. It's good that you posted this so that people can see and guard against such tragedies.

  4. How can people be like that! Even beasts are not killing just for fun. In our concentration camps the guards never killed children. They never beat children under ten. Thank you for sharing. I can understand that you won't see this place again.Have a great week!
    Wil, ABCW Team

  5. people can be so awful. not sure I'd visit once...

  6. The tragedy of Man's inhumanity to man.

  7. The place was full of sad and black memories. I won't visit this kind of place, Hazel.
    Too sad to see.

  8. So sad. I can see why you'd never want to return...

  9. Very sad indeed. I read some stories about this.


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