The road less travelled doesn’t always take you to where you want to go, but where you need to be.
With a heavy heart and a sadden soul we are on the bumpy bus ride returning to Phnom Penh. We are passing by large clothing factories, a government officials own brewery and literally small trucks full of young and old female factory workers. It really does beg the question- is your $20tee really worth it?
No visit to Cambodia and especially Phnom Penh is complete without a visit to the S21 museum and the Choeung En Genocidial Centre- aka The Killing Fields.
These areas aren’t like western museums and memorials. They offer you a chance to step inside a dark period of the Cambodian peoples history in a raw and revealing manner. There is no softening of the truth of the dark history behind these places. By educating all who come to visit we can only hope that no one ever has to experience this again.
The Killing Fields are bumpy ride from Phnom Penh. As the road rattles your bones, take a moment to reflect and consider how the thousands of people felt as they were transported from numerous prisons, interrogation cells and outer provenance’s.
I have chosen only two photos for this post. There are very few words that can describe what was felt and seen at the Killing Fields. This is one of the few experiences that I strongly believe that you need to experience with an open mind and open heart.
As we walked into the Killing Fields we are offered audio guides. The area is eerily quiet as many visitors have accepted these. We were accompanied by our own tour guide, who was affected by the war. Loosing both his father and uncle at the hands of the Khmer Rogue.
As we tentatively walked down the path, past the Stupa Memorial a small pebble lodges itself underneath my flip flop. As a I lean down to remove it I notice the smooth surface and distinctive colour. I slowly realise that this is not a pebble, but a tooth. As I look around the realisation that we are no longer walking along rough cement pushing through the dust but human bones, hits me. I feel as if I have been slapped in the face with a dead fish. There is no hiding from the horror of this places history.
The paths lead you along areas of significance. The Magic Tree, mass graves and storage rooms to name a few.
The road is long and windy with the occasional road block but the Cambodian people have accepted the challenge to rebuild their country and reclaim their culture with a smile. The country is experiencing a grass roots inspired cultural change. All I can suggest is don’t wait, get yourself to this beautiful country now. Before it’s too late.