We have been trying to post updates and suggestions for all of the cities that we have visited. However, we felt that our visit to the Killing Fields in Cambodia warranted its own article. This experience was so impactive and moving that I truly didn’t have many words once we completed the tour. Upon arrival, we walked towards what looked to be a beautifully designed building. Being that I had read a few other blogs about trips to the killing fields, I knew what we were approaching, but the three other people I was with did not. Inside the central building of the killing fields you will find 17 floors of human skulls and a collection of bones. The sight is both chilling and devastating. As we began the tour, Steven turned to me and said “oh what a nice building.” I responded and asked “do you know what is inside?” He said “No…”, I explained to him that the building is a memorial for the people that were murdered in the fields that we were standing on. At this point he truly had no words. Even though I knew this one piece of information about the grounds, I was still highly affected by the events I was about to learn more about and the stories I would hear during this next hour.
In school I learned about the Khmer Rouge and the events that took place in Cambodia in the late 70’s, but I do not think I ever stopped to really take it in. I learned the material enough to do well on my exams and moved on. I grew up going to hebrew school and taking extensive courses on the Holocaust. I felt a connection to the importance of educating people about the genocide and preventing it from happening again. My understanding was that, not only the jews, but all people affected by the Holocaust, would do anything and everything to prevent this from happening to anyone ever again. To my surprise, this clearly was not the case. The genocide that occurred in Cambodia was exactly the same as what happened during the Holocaust, and once again there are survivors that are trying to educate and tell the world about what happen to try to prevent from happening again. I could not believe that something so similar to the Holocaust had actually been repeated so recently. We walked through the fields in almost complete silence. Throughout the tour we were instructed to stay on the path and not to step on any of the bones or clothing that was surfacing from the graves surrounding us, in order to honor and respect those that were killed below our feet. We listened to the stories of survivors and descriptions of the activities that occurred in the different parts of the camp.
The audio tour was extremely informative and allowed for us to understand what happened in the exact points where we stood throughout the tour. Originally, I had taken photographs of every stop along the tour and planned to discuss it in this article. However, by the end of the tour I realized that no matter how much I could write about this experience, it would never truly mirror what we were seeing and feeling. All that I can say is that when you visit Cambodia, make it a priority to go to the killing fields and have this experience. We went early in the morning and were some of the first people there. Not only was it less crowded, but it is a lot cooler than going later in the day. Make sure you follow the audio tour and take the time to listen to everything. This is just one of many fields that were used to execute people during the reign of Pol Pot. Many of the other fields are not accessible due to land mines and their location in the jungle. After we finished here we went to see the S-21 jail, where prisoners were held before being taken to the killing fields. This was yet another chilling and dark experience. We spent all of 30 minutes walking through the jail. We opted out of the audio tour here, but I am sure it is also a good option. If you have a student ID, do not forget to bring it, as students are granted free entrance here.
If you have any questions about either of these places, feel free to message us at firstname.lastname@example.org
April 29, 2016