The Killing Fields

Phnom Penh Travel Blog

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You can’t help but feel sorry for the Cambodians.  Everywhere you step you see poverty.  The unfortunate beggars have limbs missing and you just can’t help but think about the bleak history this country has faced in its time.  We were in for more of this as we wanted to see the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek before we left for Sihanoukville.  The first thing we did was book a 2pm bus to Sihanoukville and then grab some breakfast (not at the hotel), before arranging for a tuk tuk to take us and bring us back from Choeung Ek Genocide Centre. 


Oh man this place is so sad.  As you walk through to the main fields, the first thing you cast your eyes on is a huge monument of a tower.  This is filled with shelf after shelf of skulls of those executed and buried in the mass graves.  Many of these belonged to children, and all of these have fracture lines from the battering they must have taken on their painful, unjustly death under the Pol Pot Regime.  There were actually around 300 deaths per day!  You just can’t imagine it let along justify it. 


The genocide centre is just a short 15km south west of Phnom Penh and contains 129 mass graves.  It’s quite a soul searching experience visiting this place and your will probably turn a little when you realise these people were tortured and executed just for being Khmer intellectuals, foreigners, having beliefs, or simply for being different.  You will read the signs as you walk around the path, and the most inhumane of all in my opinion was one that read ‘Storage depot for DDT’.  Ok, that on its own isn’t so bad, but the DDT had a more macabre dual use: (1) to block out the smell of the deteriorating bodies in the graves; and (2) to kill off those buried alive!  It’s unfathomable how Pol Pot got away with this for so long in relatively recent times.  It just goes to show how the Western World turns a blind eye when it’s out of sight and out of mind.  It’s the same today with the goings on in Zimbabwe and other African nations.  You can’t help but wonder if these countries had oil or gas, would it be a different story?  The comparison to the Middle-East says ‘yes’ I think.


We left in a little bit of a pensive state of mind, but did catch the bus to Sihanoukville, but only after another bodge up by the hotel.  If it wasn’t for Lori questioning the pick up, the hotel would have made us miss the bus!  We were happy to be out of that crap hole.


Thankfully we got lucky on the bus and had the front seats upstairs with ample leg room.  The road was smooth, and fully stretched out, we comfortable enough to catch a few winks.  We arrived at 7pm.


On getting off the bus, we were again surrounded by moped drivers and tuk tuk drivers, desperate for a fare.  We did manage to break away from the crowd and accept a taxi far for $2 to Serendipity beach.  After we’d pulled away from the crowd he raised the fare to $3.  We abruptly stopped and turned to go back to the nearest drivers and he immediately tried to revert to the starting price.  I was having none of that.  I know it’s a comparative pittance, but in my book a deal is a deal.  I don’t Welch on it, and won’t stand for someone doing it to me.  We got the nearest two moped drivers to take us instead.  They did want us to have a look at their chosen hotels, but we’d already decided where we wanted to stay (we’d met another person after we got off the bus, and she had told us about her hotel and it sounded fine for a night at least) and so they took us there without resistance. 


The hotel was nice, so we booked in for a couple of nights.  It was raining, and so after some food and a quick look around, we went to bed.  It had been a pretty long day.

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Phnom Penh
photo by: terminalfunk