Today we went to visit the Choeung Ek Killing Fields, and the Tuol Sleng (S-21) Museum. For those who don’t know much about Pol Pot’s rule over Cambodia (1975-1979), I really suggest that you read up about it. Ok, so I admit that it isn’t exactly light-hearted night time reading, but it’s an extremely sad, horrifying, and important part of Cambodian history. Pol Pot essentially killed his ‘enemies’ over a period of just over three years, killed around three million people, regardless of occupation or even of age. As if to add insult to injury, even after he was over-thrown, he continued to represent Cambodia within UN meetings for many years. Visiting Choeung Ek was both harrowing and interesting. The audio guide that accompanied the boards throughout was interesting, and also pretty graphic, making the trip quite upsetting.
Our tuk tuk took us to S-21, which was even more upsetting. This building used to be a school, before it was taken over to form a prison, complete with torture chambers. A horrifying number of people were killed here, and everyone who passed through the ‘security centre’ was photographed. The museum now shows every single photograph within the lower floor of 3 out of the 4 large blocks, and looking at the faces of the thousands of people, every single one of whom was on their way to death, was very harrowing.
All in all it was quite a depressing day, but we’re really glad that we visited the sites, so that we know what happened to the Cambodian people. We may just chill out in the central market tomorrow though.