Day 172- The Killing Fields, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and Traditional Dance

Today we woke up to a typical Cambodian breakfast of duck eggs with greens and rice! 

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Once we got going, Gary went with us in the tuk tuk to the Killing Fields (Choeung Ek). While there, we learned about the atrocities committed under the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. There were several killing fields around Cambodia, but Choeung Ek is the most well-known because it is right outside of Phnom Penh.

Pol Pot sent thousands of Cambodian people to their death at Choeung Ek to stop anyone from opposing him. Among those chosen to be slaughtered were anyone connected to the previous government, religious minorities, academics, and even those who wore glasses just because they looked intellectual. As Pol Pot’s paranoia grew, so did the death tolls at Choeung Ek. Entire families were massacred in the Killing Field because of the fear that the children would grow up and try to get revenge for their parents’ death. 

As we walked around, our audio guide gave us stomach churning details of what took place in an area that appears to be very peaceful. 

   There now stands a Buddhist stupa built to honor the fallen at Choeung Ek. Inside there are display cases of skulls and other bones that were found around the compound. To this day, when walking around, one can still see bone fragments and scraps of clothing along the path. 

 

There now stands a Buddhist stupa built to honor the fallen at Choeung Ek. Inside there are display cases of skulls and other bones that were found around the compound. To this day, when walking around, one can still see bone fragments and scraps of clothing along the path. 

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Thankfully, afterwards we had a long tuk tuk ride back home to process what we heard and saw. 

Once we had lunch, we left again in the tuk tuk to the Tuol Sleng Prison. During the time of the Khmer Rouge, these converted school buildings were used as a prison and interrogation space. Many of the prisoners here were sent to Cheoung Ek, if they weren’t already killed onsite. 

We walked into the haunting rooms where we saw just a single bed and a photograph taken by the Vietnamese that found the prison in 1979.  Each photograph depicted how the person was found on the same metal beds, in the same rooms, that we saw today.  

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After an emotionally draining morning and early afternoon, we headed back to Gary and Lois’s house. While we did some work, we played with Anna and she did well to lighten our spirits! 

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Then we all had some dinner before Alexander and I went to see a traditional dance performance at the National Museum! 

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I really loved seeing the traditional Cambodian dances! They had such beautiful costumes and all of the women were so elegant! 

I really loved seeing the traditional Cambodian dances! They had such beautiful costumes and all of the women were so elegant! 

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In the middle of the performance, they also did a puppet show depicting a classic Cambodian epic!  

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We arrived home at everybody’s bedtime and went up to sleep!