Why You Should Visit The Killing Fields of Cambodia

** Thanks to Ryan Gibson, the resident blogger at AsiaRooms for this brilliant guest post!

The Killing Fields are the execution grounds where millions of Cambodians were executed in the late 1970’s. The Killing Fields in Choeung Ek are just one of the many sites where people were killed. Their bodies were dumped in shallow graves, leaving behind a mass burial ground. This tragic graveyard has now become a big tourist attraction.

Those who seek something more from their holiday than just lying on a beach will appreciate this experience; it is guaranteed to be an eye opener. The Killing Fields have been converted into a sacred place to visit, in the hope that people will learn from this terrible event.

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If you want an experience you will never forget and to get a real sense of the damage that man can do, then book a trip to Cambodia now. You will be guaranteed a life changing experience that will stay with you forever.

The History

In Cambodia there was a right wing military group called the Khmer Rouge. They were an extreme right wing terrorist army who opposed the government. Their general was Marshal Lon Nol; he made a right wing communist army and handed over control to Pol Pot. What he didn’t know was that Pol Pot was a ruthless tyrant, he has since been described as the Hitler of Cambodia. Their motto was ‘to keep you is no benefit – to destroy you is no loss’, showing their extremely low opinion of life.

Pol Pot decided to follow China’s communist regime, making everyone work in the fields. The Cambodian people were forced to live like peasants, working long days with little food or luxury. He didn’t want professionals such as lawyers, doctors and teachers, so he murdered them. Anybody who didn’t obey orders was killed. This was ethnic cleansing in its most extreme form. Not many well educated Cambodians survived this ordeal, and the country is still suffering because of this.

Cambodian-Victims

Some people were killed simply for knowing a foreign language or wearing glasses. Music was banned and radio sets were not allowed. Even children were taken from their parents to work on forced labour camps doing work on the fields. Religion wasn’t allowed in any sense or form and sadly a lot of Monks were killed.

There was no mercy, showing sadness or crying about the massacre of loved ones was punishable by death. This was not as quick as victims might have wished; as bullets were considered to be too precious people were bludgeoned to death by hand.

There were between 1.7 to 2.5 million deaths as a result, out of a population of 8 million. The genocide stopped in 1978 when Vietnam overthrew the Khmer Rouge. In 1979, after the Cambodian Vietnamese war, Pol Pot fled to the jungles of South West Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge government collapsed.

Cambodia has endured a turbulent history throughout much of the 20th century. It has seen conflict, political unrest, and worst of all, genocide. This dark history has attracted a great number of tourists who want to try and piece together the
history of Cambodia.

What is it Like to Visit?

Be prepared to hear some terrible stories, the devastation will humble you. It is a shocking representation of modern times but despite the deep sadness that dwells within the fields, some visitors say it is a very peaceful place. The site has been maintained respectfully in memory of those who lost their lives.

Killing Fields of Cambodia - bones

This experience is not for the faint hearted, there will be a few nasty shocks such as items of clothing buried in the dirt and even bones surfacing from the ground. It is not a place for children to visit. You will be able to hear personal stories from survivors, helping you to start to understand what they went through. This will be an emotional experience that will chill you to your bones. If you feel strong enough then there is a shrine with 8000 skulls on display, which demonstrates the magnitude of what happened.

Take your time as you look around and listen to the recordings, there is a lot of difficult information to absorb. There are a few quiet spots where you can sit and contemplate. You can listen to the recordings in English, at your own pace.

Visitors have described visiting the Killing Fields as both terrifying and fascinating at the same time. Many say the devastation is difficult to believe, even if the evidence is right in front of you. This will be an emotional experience that will shock you to your very core.

Why You Should Visit

Travel doesn’t always have to be a time to switch off and relax. It’s the perfect opportunity to discover the world and the history lost within it. Some people want to get something more from their holidays, where they take something away
with them.

 If you truly want to understand the history of Cambodia then you must visit the killing fields, you won’t regret it. There are around 424 hotels in Cambodia, and it’s only twice the size of Scotland. Tourism is now an important part of the Cambodian economy, as it is helping to rebuild their country.  Most of the population still survive on less than a dollar a day. There are still survivors, living just around the corner from the killing fields, trying to put their lives back together. It is vital we understand the magnitude of their suffering.

The Killing fields can be described as a form of ‘Dark Tourism’ which is catered to those interested in war, death camps and prisons. If you want something different on your next holiday, don’t miss out on visiting the Killing Fields.

How to Get There

Travellers can get a Tuk Tuk from the centre of Phnom Penh to the killing fields, which adds to the overall experience. Be aware that dirt from the roads can cause discomfort, so consider wearing a face mask to prevent you from breathing in any dust. Or if you fancy a quieter trip with air conditioning then you can always take a taxi. Choeung Ek is about 15km South West of the capital, Phnom Penh. Entry is around $5.

About the Author: 

Ryan Gibson

Ryan is the resident blogger at AsiaRooms. When Ryan is not working he spends his time travelling the globe, drawing on his travel experience and passion for travel to spread the good word. Ryan is also a social monkey and can be found lounging around on Twitter & Google+ and loves to interact with other travel bloggers.

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