A somber visit to one of the Killing Fields of Cambodia and the S-21 Prison
Kampuchea’s capital and biggest town is Phnom Penh, its political, economic, and cultural center. It has an international airport that receives flights from all over the world. (Read about my detailed account of Phnom Penh in this post).
Entry fee: $6 (includes the Audio Tour by Narrowcasters available in several languages).
Choeung Ek is one of the 300 Killing Fields in Cambodia and the most important one. The Khner Rouge killed several political prisoners between 1975 and 1979. Choeung Ek is about 15 km from Phnom Penh. There are mass tombs of 8985 males, females and kids at Choung Ek. One can still find fragments of human bones and clothes around the pits of the field. At Choeung Ek, 5000 human skulls and bones have been preserved at the memorial stupa. These remains are arranged in 13 levels and are open to tourists between 7:30 AM – 5:30 PM.
The audio narrates vivid accounts of prisoners from the S-21 detention center who were executed at Choeung Ek. It includes a chilling account of Him Huy – Choeung Ek guard and executioner, Former Prison Director Duch, and a few heart-wrenching survivor tales. The Choeung Ek Museum describes the brutalities perpetrated at the Killing Field.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 Prison)
Tuol Sleng entry fee: $5 (additional $3 for the audio tour).
We toured the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum after reviving the horror of the Khmer Rouge at Choeung Ek. Pol Pot and his men transformed a high school into the notorious Security Prison 21(S-21). The soldiers turned the classrooms into small prison cells. There are only 7 survivors out of an estimated 20,000 prisoners.
The soldiers used to shackle the inmates to the walls with minimal room to curl up to sleep. There are red markings on the floor and we weren’t sure if it was blood or paint. The cells on the other 2 floors were worse. The cells were dark, gloomy and smaller. Pol Pot’s soldiers turned the classrooms into torture chambers. Each cell had a single bed and ankle chains to shackle the detainees.
We had climbed upto the 2nd floor and there was almost noone around. We started getting an eerie feeling and was feeling claustrophobic. Immediately, we rushed downstairs to the ground floor.
Tuktuk fare for Choeung Ek and Tuol Sleng: $15-18 (stopover at the Russian Market would incur an additional $3-4).
The visit to the Choeung Ek and Tuol Sleng was a harrowing one. We got to know how much the people of Cambodia had suffered and the world knows so little of it!
Read about our Siem Reap adventures here