Genocide museum and killing fields of Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia reminded us of Bengaluru. Crowded, heavy traffic, dusty, bad roads (except for important places) gave us the feeling of Bengaluru. Having visited Siem Reap and Battambang, Phnom Penh was a bit of shocker to us. We expected a calmer capital!! Nevertheless, we were there just for a day before flying back to India. 

At genocide museum

While Angkor wat represents the glorious past of Cambodia, Phnom Penh holds some of the bloodiest recent past. Between 1975-1979 Cambodia saw one of the worst genocide of last century where 2 - 3 million Cambodians were massacred wiping out 25% of the population. While we had a glimpse of the past at the killing caves of Battambang, the sites of Phnom Penh explain it deeper.

The cells inside the room at genocide museum

We visited genocide museum of Tuol Seng. The former high school had turned into a security prison during Khmer rogue regime where 20,000 people were executed. There were only 7 survivors in this prison. Today, it is converted into museum but the building structure has been maintained in its old form. It is not for sensitive people as the museum explains the torture and killings of people in this place. It is unbelievable that so many deaths took place while the whole world watched without bothering. After sometime, it was too much for Chaya and Tanu to handle; they decided to spend their time in the park.

Memorial at Killing fields

Having visited the genocide museum, we went to the killing fields of Choeung Ek village at the outskirts of Phnom Penh. This time Chaya and Tanu decided not to enter and stay outside as they felt very disturbed by these sights. Only I decided to visit the place. Choeung Ek is now a memorial with a Buddhist stupa. The stupa has some 5,000 human skulls being displayed.

A mass grave in killing fields
There is a audio guide available and one need to walk at the memorial listening to the way people were brought to the place, executed and buried. Even children and infant were not spared. It is a very heart breaking scene to see the clothes of young ones being displayed at the mass graves. Human bones are still present at the site.

Both places are not pleasant to visit. But it is important for every visitor to understand the recent history of Cambodia. It is peaceful today and had a golden age long back but the recent history was anything but bloody. 

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