This is also the final post on the adventure to Cambodia as we head home after spending 2 days in Phnom Penh. The entire trip was short yet very educational. The trip is made possible and memorable thanks to the professional arrangement by the wonderful team @ Asian Overland Services.
Ending the wonderful tour around the Royal Palace of Cambodia, we head next to the historical and gruesome site, Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.
The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek is the site of a former orchard that was used as a mass grave of victims of the Khmer Rouge – killed between 1975 and 1979. This is one of the site used during the Khmer Rouge regime where Cambodian were encouraged to confess to Angkar their “Pre-revolutionary lifestyles and crimes” and then being told that Angkar would forgive them and “wipe the slate clean” which means being taken away for torture and execution.
Today, the site is a Buddhist memorial for the victims where the memorial park at Choeung Ek is build around the mass grave of many thousands of the victims, most were executed after being transported from the S-21 Prison in Phnom Penh.
Executions were done in various ways, buried in mass graves where in order to save ammunition, execution were carried out using poison, spades or sharpened bamboo sticks. In some cases, children and infants of adult victims were killed by having their heads bashed against the trunks of chankiri trees and then thrown into the pits alongside their parents. This come with the rationale “to stop them growing up and taking revenge for their parent’s death”.
Our walk around the field were careful where we kept our eyes on our steps as to ensure that we do not accidentally step on any bones that were scattered around some of the areas that were not cornered off. It was indeed a very sad sight as we see many dozens mass graves which were visible above ground, many which have not been excavated yet.
There were also a commemorative stupa filled with the skulls of the victims at the Killing Field of Choeung Ek.
After the eyes opening tour, we head off for a memorable Eat All You Can Shabu Shabu lunch which we understand was our original lunch venue for the day before that was postponed due to the delayed arrival into Phnom Penh.
Following from lunch, we head off to the next important historical part of Cambodia, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. This former high school site which was then used as the notorious S-21 Prison (Security Prison 21) by the Khmer Rouge regime from its rise to power in 1975 to its fall in 1979.
Here, we see the five buildings of the complex turned into prison and interrogation centre. The buildings were enclosed in electrified barbed wire, classrooms converted into tiny prison and torture chambers with windows covered with iron bars and barbed wire to prevent any inmates’ escapes.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (សារមន្ទីរឧក្រិដ្ឋកម្មប្រល័យពូជសាសន៍ទួលស្លែង)
In this place, we could see some of the torture systems used. There were photos of the victims lining the walls.
We were very fortunate to be able to meet 2 of the survivor from the Khmer Rouge prison S21. We also managed to purchase their autographed biography entailing their experience during their imprisonment during the period.
The last 2 living survivor of the Khmer Rouge prison S21
We ended our day with a visit to the Central Market followed by a wonderful chinese dinner. This officially ends our tour @ Phnom Penh and our 5 days vacation to the beautiful and historical Cambodia.
For those whom have been following my series of write up on Cambodia, I hope that you had find these shared information and photos interesting. Thank you for your support.