Evil pays, at times even decades later. One nation is making millions through exhibition of horrors of an infamous genocide.
For the uninitiated, Cambodia once was under such a totalitarian rule of Khmer Rouge that it makes North Korea and Islamic State look like liberal republics in comparison.
The entire population (yes entire population) was driven into the rural areas and forced into hard manual labor in the fields. The annihilation was so massive that these fields achieved international notoriety as the “Killing Fields of Cambodia”. Ironically, the same Killing Fields are making millions for the Cambodian economy through tourism.
Warning: This is not a tourist spot for the weaker heart.
Cheung Ek: The fabled Killing Fields. During its rule, Khmer Rouge killed 1.7 million Cambodians. Most were killed here. 8,000 human skulls at exhibition in glass cases are enough to stun you with the enormity of the horrors. The grizzliest one from the list of unspeakable horrors is perhaps The Killing Tree against which the children were bashed to death, it still has blood spots, the children are dead but the tree lives on, as a living monument of human evil. Spend a moment paying your respect to the dead, it would help your compose yourself.
TuolSleng Genocide Museum: The unassuming building can be deceptive. It wasn’t designed to be a museum; it was designed to be a school and looks like one. However, this place went down in history as “S-21” the site of most horrifying tortures in human history. Thousands went in, only one left it alive. You can find torture equipment at display, the beds on which the prisoners were chained, and yes the skulls, hundreds of them. However, the most disturbing part of this place is the pictures of the victims, most of who were tortured to death. This can be soul wrenching and extremely disturbing. Only place of its kind may there never be another one like it.
Angkor Wat: The world’s largest temple. It was a Hindu temple and then a Buddhist shrine.
It is a heady mix of spirituality from both religions. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must visit for anyone visiting Cambodia.It is so huge that you won’t be able to cover it in one day. It is preferable to get a multi-day ticket. Better get a guide who can tell you about the history and the significance of the site. Best to visit early in the morning. But a must visit.
After witnessing so much evil, the spirit needs healing, just like Cambodia itself.