Killing Caves and Scary Moto Rides
Battambang Travel Blog› entry 11 of 26 › view all entries
July 29th, 2008 – by: Zymosis
Back in the 70's there was this revolutionary leader named Pol Pot. As part of his master plan, he rounded up damn-near everyone from all over the country, especially doctors/teachers/etc, and imprisoned them in "re-education camps." Near Battambang lies a awe-inspiring mountain with some limestone caves up top, and these caves were used by Pol Pot's army. I'll spare you the details, but there were two ways one could be "re-educated" at the Killing Caves. The first was to be thrown from the mouth of the cave down 80 feet into the darkness, possibly after being beaten. The second was to be imprisoned with several other people in a dog-house sized cage inside the cave, without food or water, until you died.
To get to the mountain we took the scariest moto rides ever, blasting down rough dirt roads for half an hour until we arrived. I ride motorcycles, and I was freaked out. But hey, EVERYONE here rides a moto every day, sometimes fitting an entire family of four onto a small scooter (really, this is quite common).
The mountain was a large limestone (?) bluff rising out of the flats. We hired a local kid as a guide, and started walking up the road to the top while he told us about the history of the mountain. The hike up was short but brutal. There are two killing caves that we saw, one for throwing and one for starving. I may have misunderstood, but I think the cave passages that link the two have lots of body remains. A huge shrine houses tons of bones of Pol Pot's victims.
A ten minute walk to the very top of the mountain brings you to a colorful and detailed temple, inhabited by monks and monkeys (heh). Seriously, the monkeys are everywhere, and they know it's their turf. The kids throw stones at the monkeys because they tend to bite people and steal things... perhaps a circular trend. The monkeys weren't afraid of us, and one went after Mike to try to get his water. Apparently there used to be a huge king monkey, but he kept biting people so the locals had to shoot him. Our guide also told me how he remembers carrying countless bags of cement to the top of the mountain when the temple was being built.
Another hair-raising moto ride got us back to town, where we ate and got ready to head down to Phnom Penh, the capital.
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