K is for The Killing Fields.

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History teaches us that history teaches us nothing. I’ve long been aware of this but still firmly believe that if you find yourself in a place where unspeakable horrors took place, you should visit and tell your children and your friends, who should tell theirs. In the grand scheme of world politics this may achieve nothing, but it will at least keep the memory alive of those who suffered before you.

The day broke for my trip to Choeung Ek, perhaps it was apt that it was the only unpleasant weather day of the trip. The tuktuk arrived at the hotel as planned, an hours ride from central Phnom Penh and I was at the gates of a place I knew a lot about but was about to discover with my own eyes.

There is little in life more peaceful than an orchard, yet this place of mass execution and pits of dead bodies was once just that. Almost 9000 bodies were exhumed from this site, now a memorial to all of the dead of this period of Cambodian history.

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Almost nothing remains to speak directly of what happened here, as soon as the Khmer Rouge were defeated and slinked away into the jungle, the locals entered and ransacked the place, taking anything and everything to rebuild their homes and their lives. You are accompanied by a small voice in your ear which you collect on arrival. You follow the numbered posts as the voice explains to you what took place here, or there. Your imagination is left to work, trying to piece together what the voice is telling you and what your eyes see.

The Tree. That will stay with me till my dying day. Its a well established fact that the acts of people in these times do not resemble the acts of the same people taken out of that situation. But, The Tree. a more base act I struggle to think of.

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Walking quietly through the rain, I became aware of small pieces of coloured cloth, and fragments of bone sticking up through the ground.

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These were living people not so long ago, and pieces of them and scraps of what they wore are still interred in the light brown soil. Rain and sunshine create movement in the earth, and remains come to the surface on a regular basis.

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If you ever go to Cambodia, please, go to Phnom Penh and go to Choeung Ek. Then, when you return home, tell your children and your friends and encourage them to tell theirs.

The letter K was bought to you by: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

 

 

 

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About bobleponge216

Elderly rotund toothless male seeks wilderness to travel to.
This entry was posted in Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to K is for The Killing Fields.

  1. Rightly condemned by the world, the actions that took place there were without justification, but probably not without precedent. Has the world learned from it? The answer is in the mass graves found in many places since then, and the answer is a resounding ‘no’. And the answer will remain so until the human race cleanses itself of the thinking that people deserve to die because they believe/speak/look/act differently to each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. louvargas2014 says:

    Haunting. Humans. Horriffic.
    Should have been letter H.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. sarahallanauthor says:

    Fascinating! I’d very much like to see this someday. Your post captured the mood perfectly–very similar to how I felt when I visited Dachau. Excellent job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the kind words. Its another of those places that “I’m glad I saw it” isn’t the right phrase, but its something I knew I had to see.
      Having been very “lucky” in life I’ve seen a fair few of these sorts of places and even after seeing Auschwitz a couple of years ago, Dachau remains the most poignant, evil site I’ve ever visited.

      Like

  4. It is impossible to imagine the suffering, and the motives, the beliefs which could allow this to be done to any person. How is it possible to make sure this sort of thing never happens again? I think it will take a long time. There is much danger ahead of us. Flooded lands. People having to leave their own countries because of it. There will be wars, I think. I’m hoping people will realise that unless they must work together and help those that need it. I suspect they won’t. ~Liz http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sadly, I know they wont. Time has proved that man cannot live with man. We will always have wars, but the total savagery of the Pol Pot regime is almost too awful to believe.
      Thanks for reading.

      Like

  5. Very powerful posts for your A to Z Challenge.
    Great job.
    Heather M. Gardner
    Co-host: Blogging from A to Z April Challenge
    Blog: The Waiting is the Hardest Part [http://hmgardner.blogspot.com/]

    Like

  6. Alex Hurst says:

    Wow, that must have been a really heavy place to walk through. I live near Hiroshima but can’t bring myself to go, as an American, to that place that America destroyed. It is a vicious thing, to think of places like this, and the other places of war, and then try to align that with personal identity. It makes it hard to view or consider things like this… but thank you for telling us about your experience.

    Like

    • But you didn’t do it, you weren’t even born when it happened. We can’t hold citizens of countries today to account for things that were done by their forefathers. I wouldn’t be able to not go, its such a historical place, even just to visit, lay a flower and give some personal atonement.
      But we’re all different, I couldn’t have visited Cambodia and not visited it, the government actually encourages tourists to go so that those who perished aren’t forgotten.

      Liked by 1 person

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