Phnom Penh and its Killing Fields
Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s capital and the place to know more about the most barbarous, cruel crime committed by the Khmer Rouge during 1975-1979. One of the main museums about the genocide is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, former Office S-21 during the Khmer Rouge regime. I recommend visiting this museum first before heading to the Killing Fields for a correct cronological order of the events. It’s hard to imagine that this place, where in only 4 years more than 20.000 people where imprisoned, interrogated and inhumanly tortured, used to be a school with happy, playing primary school children.
Many Cambodians may have never been to the Killing Fields. Is it because they don’t want to look back at this part of their history or because they are not ready yet to face it? who knows..I know that every foreigner in Cambodia will go for sure!We rented a motorbike for the day and went to the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center. In Choeung Ek only, more than 8000 bodies were found in mass graves.With the free audioguides in our hands, we started this intensive, educational and certainly emotional tour with an introduction about the entry of Pol Pot and its’ Khmer Rouge on April 17th, 1975. The audiotour ends at the Memorial Stupa where remains of the victims in Choeung Ek are respectfully conserved. Especially the mass graves of the women and children touched me the most as well as the stories of those who survived the genocide.
Phnom Penh (and Cambodia) is of course more than dead and sorrow. There is the beautiful Art Deco style Psar Thmei (New Market) selling jewellery, fake stuff, antiques, souvenirs and much more. We also visited the Royal Palace and its Silver Pagode (where you actually only see a small piece of the silver floor, which didn’t really impresed me). And enjoyed ourselves with just sitting on the grass in front of the palace and watching locals, monks, children passing by.
And in the evenings we spend some time in the parks watching the locals dancing!