When people say Cambodia, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the famed Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap. What most people don’t know though, or not even bother to know, is that more than the magnificent temples and ruins that leave you awestricken, Cambodia holds a darker, sadder and, albeit the different context, an equally jaw-dropping history—the Khmer Rouge regime and the horror of the Killing Fields.
When I was planning my Backpacking South East Asia trip, my only purpose of visiting Cambodia is to go tomb raiding and marvel at the sight of the temples of Angkor Wat. It was only after reading Sole Sister Chichi’s entry on Cheong Ek Genocidal Center that I resolved to pay respect to the thousands of people who died under the Pol Pot regime.
Depressing as it was, I believe that the Cheong Ek Genocidal Center is worth the traveller’s visit. Apart from the stupa that holds the skulls, bones and clothes of the victims found in the Killing Fields, there is a museum/information center to learn more about this sad history. There are also markers throughout the Killing Fields, explaining the graves, instruments and yes, even how the trees from mother nature were used to take lives, instead of nourish them.
The Killing Fields is a testament of how far people will go for power and the harm this power can do to people. But more than a reminder of Cambodia’s tragic history, I hope that the Killing Fields will not just be a memorial site but more importantly, an immortal proof of the Khmer people’s strength and resilience.
I humbly request everyone who read this to offer a moment of silence (and even prayer) for the thousands of Khmers (Cambodians) who suffered in the Killing Fields.