Thursday, April 30, 2015

Phnom Penh Day 2: Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum & Killing Field

Not exactly my favorite part of my visit to Phnom Penh was the trip to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Killing Field. Before I went there, I was excited to go there and to see for myself the left over of the Khmer Rouge. Cruel and inhuman was all I could think about after the visit. How could they kill an innocent live without a blink of an eye? How could they inflict pain and torture their victims without feeling guilty? 

I just couldn't understand it.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was initially a school but turned into prison when Khmer Rouge took over. We did asked our tour guide at Angkor Wat what was the purpose of Khmer Rouge. He explained it was to abolish classes such as the rich and the poor in the society. They want everyone to be equal and classless. You can read more about it here. It is a very interesting read. 

The purpose is good but executed with such an extreme methods. It kills the purpose, guys.

As we walked into the school yard, there were some veterans sitting under shade with posters and books behind them. My guess they are probably the survivors of Khmer Rouge or someone related to Khmer Rouge victims. 

I was not paying much attention as it was really hot that I can feel the sun burning my skin. Plus, we were in a hurry to catch a documentary about Khmer Rouge in one of the old classroom. 

Some of the victims that killed or died at Tuol Sleng were buried there.

The higher floor of the building was wired to prevent the prisoners from jumping off. They were tortured with all methods that you could imagine and rather commit suicide than being left to suffer till their last breathe.

We didn't stay long there. The place seems so eerie and haunting to me. The peeling paint on the wall, the rusty metal bed and the stench make it even more scarier. The surrounding atmosphere was quiet as tourists flocking the area kept their voices down as a sign of respect to the victims.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Musuem
Street 113, Boeng Keng Kang
Phnom Penh

Entrance fee: $2

Next, we got on our van and heading to Killing Field which was quite a journey too. It takes around 45 minutes to reach. The Killing Field is located at Choeung Ek village and the location where the prisoners from Tuol Sleng were sent to be executed. 

By looking at the tower in the picture, you will never guess what are stored inside. Thousands of skulls of the victims are stored in there. The skulls of the victims are arranged accordingly to age categories. Same as the genocide museum, we didn't buy the audio guide as it is quite pricey, $6 if I'm not mistaken.

Same as the genocide museum, everyone was quiet and mostly walking around with headphone as they were listening to the audio guide. Although it will be great to be brief about what incident happened at a certain spot, I don't think I can handle the brutality. I'm glad I went without the audio guide.

Signs like this are placed at certain essential spot so you won't be completely lost and not knowing what happened there 40 years ago.

I can't find the word to exactly describe how I feel after visiting the important places in Cambodia history but I glad I went because it is an absolute eye opener about Cambodia dark past. The haunting experience at Tuol Sleng and Killing Field is not my standard normal tourist experience. It was my first time visiting history spots with such gruesome background.

Even writing about it give me goosebumps.

I strongly suggest you to visit these places if you ever set foot in Phnom Penh, for its importance history and reflection of the past.

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