"to live would be an awfully big adventure"-peter pan
i haven't been to many places in cambodia, yet, or in surrounding countries (again yet). however, i've been to a few places around phnom penh. another series i'm going to do in this blog, is tell you about some of the adventures i've experienced.
this one is a not so pleasant adventure, but i think it needs to be shared. on my birthday weekend, my friend, erin, and i went to the killing fields.
if you don't know much about cambodian history, let me give you a little run down of what the killing fields where used for. if you are sensitive, please stop reading now. the killing fields are a number of sites in cambodia where collectively more than a million people were killed and buried by the khmer rouge regime,immediately after the end of the cambodian civil war. the mass killings are widely regarded as part of a broad state-sponsored genocide.
the khmer rouge was the name given to the followers of the communist party of cambodia. it was formed in 1968 as an offshoot of the vietnam people's army of vietnam. it was the ruling party in cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by pol pot, nuon chea, ieng sary, son sen, and khieu samphan. it allied with vVietnam, the viet cong, and pathet lao during the vietnam war against the anti-communist forces.
when i asked my khmer language tutor how much of a break they got between the vietnams war and the khmer rouge, he said "it was maybe a day or so".
needless to say, it's not a thrilling place. but i think it's important to go when you visit phnom penh. you get a very good understanding of what the khmer people have been through. and i was blown away by how heartless some people can be. you wear headphones around the fields.the recordings talk about each landmark you come to and even some stories about some of the people who survived. it is estimated that nearly 2 million people died during this time. you should look it up, it's a very sad and fascinating part of history.
i can compartmentalize a lot of things. i've heard a LOT of horrible stories in my time. until i got to the tree (pictured above), i was able to stomach everything. my heart just sank when i read the sign next to this tree. the soldiers would grab babies and toddlers by their feet and bang them against this tree. there is a mass grave to the right of the tree where babies and children were buried. this part, this part was a bit much for me.
i have tons of other adventures planned, and they'll be more uplifting. so stay tuned for next month!