Choeung Ek is a significant place in Cambodian history; however, it is not for everyone. During the Khmer Rouge regime, Choeung Ek center was a grave to bury those who had violated the authority’s rules. On top of that, it was where the Khmer Rouge authority executed and tortured the victims or people whom they thought were against them. Locating about 17 kilometers south of Phnom Penh, Choeung Ek was a site that contained many painful and heartbreaking memories of Khmer people.
If you happen to ask the people who survived the Khmer Rouge regime, they would tell you how scared they were during those times when knowing their friends or loved ones had to leave to Choeung Ek. Even though Choeung Ek left such a traumatic memory to Khmer people, it is now one of the attractions in Cambodia that also gathers many visitors who want to know about the historical genocide. Most importantly, for those who want to find out more about Cambodia history from the past, visiting Choeung Ek genocidal center will give you a new and eye-opening experience.
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Killing Fields of Choeung Ek
It is not a surprise that most of the Cambodian people, even the modern generation, have heard of Choeung Ek genocidal center. During the hardest time of Cambodia, in the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979), over a million people were executed at Choeung Ek. Not only that, the Khmer Rouge tortured the people whom they thought were against them in Toul Sleng, known as the most notorious prison, first before they escorted the people to Choeung Ek to execute. To make it clear, the Khmer Rouge blindfolded the people and either shot or smacked them on the head with hard objects. One more fact that we should notice is that the bullets were extremely expensive at that time. Hence, instead of shooting the victims with the gun, the Khmer Rouge beat them to death and then put chemical substances all over their bodies to make sure that no victim remained alive.
You can see it from the scattered of human skulls that the owner of Choeung Ek put on display for the public to see. Moreover, many people who made it out of the Khmer Rouge regime believed that the people whom the Khmer Rouge brought to Choeung Ek never had a chance to survive. The Khmer Rouge told the family of the victim that they wanted to educate the victim; however, we all knew better that educating during those periods meant executing or killing without any mercy at all. Evidently, after the regime came to an end, the authority has discovered more than 8,895 bodies in those mass graves at Choeung Ek. This leads this site to become one of the most suitable attractions for dark tourist or in another word for tourists who fascinates about the dark history of their nation or other nations.
What to do there
There are many fascinating things to do in Choeung Ek center to instruct tourists about Cambodia’s historical story from the past. You will not get bored to know how devastating it was about this country in the past as well as learning about the in-depth truth of the past society. Therefore, to know more and more about this Cambodia, you should definitely come to Choeung Ek center. You do not have to pay a huge amount of money to get a chance to explore this place. The ticket price is around $7 per person including an audio tour that is available in several languages, which is very affordable compare to all the experience you will get after the visitation. On top of that, we have also provided a few places for you to visit when going to Choeung Ek.
The killing tree
To begin with, we all have known that Choeung Ek was a killing field. Interestingly, there is also a tree that people call it the Killing Tree as well. When you first see it, you will think that this tree in Choeung Ek is a gorgeous gigantic tree that could provide the shade for visitors to protect themselves from the direct sunlight. However, there was a horrible past lying behind this seem-to-be splendid tree. First of all, this tree was the tree against which executioners beat children.
The Khmer Rouge believed that no children of the victims should be alive because they would come back to revenge them when they grew up. As a result, the cruel Khmer Rouge killed many innocent children by slamming the children’s tiny bodies against that tree which is the most inhumane behavior one could behave. On top of that, when you visit this tree in Choeung Ek, you can see that there is a large collection of bracelets decorated on the base of the tree. It is like a gesture for visitors to demonstrate how heartbroken they are for the children who were still so innocent and pure for the world but had to leave so prematurely.
Moving on to the next spot in Choeung Ek is the Buddhist stupa. In the killing field of Choeung Ek genocidal center, there are more than 5,000 human skulls, putting inside the stupa that has acrylic glass. Additionally, the arrangement of skulls are in order of sex and age. Once you see it, you will not be able to comprehend what the victims ever did to deserve such a cruel punishment. This distressing view will never fail to make your heart aches for all the people who had suffered in the past because of the Khmer Rouge.
Over and above that, Choeung Ek is a site for people to see and serve as an important memory to all Khmer people about how cruel it was in the Khmer Rouge regime. Most importantly, it is to remind us that we should do anything in our power to stop the war from happening so the history of such misery will never repeat itself.
Security office 21
The next spot that you should also come to visit around the Choeung Ek area to obtain more insightful knowledge of the devastating past of Cambodia is Security Office 21 (S-21). It was a high school before, but the Khmer Rouge transformed it into a prison in 1976. It may come out as a shock to some people, but the Khmer Rouge used this prison to torture the people to confess the sin they made against the authority. If the people did not confess, they would start torturing them until they accepted their mistakes. Moreover, the Khmer Rouge even took photos of those victims. Heartbreakingly, some of the photos are not so eye-pleasing and it is definitely not for sensitive people to see.
To put it concisely, this prison was an archive of photos of the prisoners during the Khmer Rouge regime. As mentioned before, the Khmer rouge would bring the victims to this prison before they took them to the Choeung Ek killing field. Nowadays, this security office 21 has become a museum with the name Tuol Sleng. To get inside, you have to pay for an entrance fee which costs around $8 with audio. There are many photos of the victims from the past on the wall for visitors to see.
When you are inside, you cannot help but feel sorry for all the poor souls who lost their life in such a brutal way. Even though there are many agonizing stories displaying at this place, visitors should really come to see Choeung Ek to witness that despite being a very prosperous country like now, Cambodia has once been in a feeling of deep sorrow as well.
The Choeung Ek monument
The last thing you can do at Choeung Ek is visiting all the monuments that Cambodian people have established for all Khmer people to remember how saddening and tragic it was when the war happened. It was also for the foreigners to understand how cruel it was in the past and how humans could be so cruel to one another by visiting Choeung Ek center. Therefore, we all should begin to develop ourselves to a become better person and embrace only peace and joy. On top of that, seeing all the monuments inside Choeung Ek area at first glance would make you want to praise how talented people who built this place. You will find yourself feeling all sorts of emotions as soon as you know about the gloomy and unforgivable thing that had happened there.
In summary, visiting Choeung Ek genocidal center is a must. With all the emotional stories lying inside the area, the site has the ability to provide tourists a different kind of perspective as soon as they have discovered all the hidden stories inside Choeung Ek center. Most importantly, Choeung Ek serves as a reminder to everyone of how humans could be so merciless towards their own kind. Moreover, Choeung Ek is also a reminder that such a devilish act is disgraceful and no one in the world deserves to go through treatment so inhumanly like this. In brief, if the dark type of tourism is your favorite, we truly recommend you to visiting Choeung Ek genocidal center to receive the best kind of experience about the underlying past of Cambodia.