Monday, September 10, 2012

Depressing, Horrifying, Fascinating: The Killing Fields

After a getting a quick dose of cool air from our aircon, we were ready to conquer Phnom Pehn. We started our tour around 3:30pm. The forums advised to haggle, so I did. I haggled the guide fee from $20 to $15. This includes the pick-up fee from the bus station.


A palace. Now that I've crossed countries, I noted some distinct features in Khmer buildings.

There are some pointed thingies in the roof

It was a dusty ride going to the Killing Fields. I think it is around 50 minutes away from the city center, passing through some rough roads which sprayed dust from time to time. The locals covered their nose and mouth when they pass these dusty areas. Our driver was considerate - he bought us masks.

Some vanity shot with the mask

It costs $5 to enter the Killing Fields. The tour comes with the audio guide, just like the ones in Europe. We were all set to explore the place.

I lacked research about Cambodian history before going to this trip. I was aghast to what I discovered about their history.
This is a sad sad sad place. Cambodia has a tragic, painful, history. I was horrified and fascinated at the same time. The pictures here may be simple, but they hold a story. I'm limiting the storytelling about the stuff here. I don't think I can do the Cambodia history telling any justice.

The civil war yielded casualties and destruction of properties, plunging the country back into stone age. According to our audio guide, almost 3 million Khmer people died. That is more than one-third of their 8 million population.(I googled more about the deaths when I got home, some of the studies say the death toll is around 2.2 million)

The Khmer Rouge’s regime was just ...just... unjustly evil. I have no words.

A shrine for all those who died

A civil war happened in Cambodia during 1970-1975. The same time the Vietnam War happened (1955-1975). Those dates are not ancient, my parents are already alive during that time. The Philippines was under the Martial Law during that time (from 1972 to 1981). I guess the Philippines was thriving considering that our neighbors were at war back then?

You can do some reflections here

This is just one of the killing fields in the entire country. There were mass graves here. When it rains, the bones and teeth surface. That is heartbreaking and creepy. 

Bones, anyone?

The caretaker picks up and collects the  bones, teeth and clothing fragments once in a while. 

This is the worst: The Killing Tree.

 Babies, helpless babies, were thrown here. Heartless!

A popculture reference: This is when I realized what Suzanne Collins meant when she said she wrote the Hunger Games Trilogy to let the younger generation "understand" war (her dad fought in the Vietnam War). There's a lot of violence and war in TV and media, but we are not really "exposed" to these. We know that it is just TV. There may be other civil wars in some parts of the world, but we are "shielded" from all that pain. Years from now, we will probably know more about those. And that pain happened in my generation.

Cambodia's flag waving free
May all those souls rest in peace.

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