04 July, 2008

A Visit to Choeung Ek Genocidal Center

. 04 July, 2008

The Choeung Ek Genocidal Center which is also known as The Killing Field historical museum was the place we visited in the 14 April 2008. It took about 6 hours drive from Siem Reap to get there.

During in Siem Reap we stayed at Auberge Mont Royal d’Angkor at 497 Taphul, Siem Reap, Cambodia, adjacent to a famous Jasmine d’Angkor Restaurant. Here any kind of food is available, variously from local traditional food, Asian food and Western food. All we can eat for US$9 per person, children under 6 is free of charge. At 8 pm the dancers performed Cambodian traditional dance, which I thought is quite similar to Thailand traditional dance.

In the morning, we left the hotel. Knowing Cambodia as one of the countries in South Asian where people eat rice, I’d expected rice to be served at the hotel for breakfast. To my surprise, the menu for breakfast was French bread. We had the choice of omelet, jam or honey to be served with it. There was no rice, no noodle, even cereal was nowhere to be seen. Another thing I’d come to notice was that in Cambodia, people drive on the right side, opposite of Indonesia where people drive on the left side of the road. Besides the local language, people here (especially the aged ones) speak French.

After breakfast, we continued our journey. This time we headed for Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, where our cousin lived. The trip was quite long, it took 6 hours drive from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. There was nothing special along the way. It felt almost as if we were on a trip from Medan to Tebing Tinggi. In the middle of the way to Phnom Pen we stopped over to take a picture if front of monument Indonesian-Cambodian Friendship.

Indonesian-Cambodian Friendship monument

Since it was time for lunch and the trip was for another hour before reaching Phnom Penh, we decided to stop for lunch. This time we had lunch at Rumchong restaurant. There were various choices of seafood, steam boat, fried chicken, etc. We chose a seat in the backyard, overlooking the Mekhong river. The restaurant was crowded. Besides the main course, we ordered Cambodian pizza which is totally different from Italian pizza. Cambodian pizza is a piece of round thin crepe, filled with salad and minced meat.

L-R : Priscilla, Laura & Katrin, Risma, Erna, Marida & Naya, Esther, Winda, k’Line, the driver, b’Gindo

The moment we entered Phnom Penh, there weren’t many people, because it was still Khmer holiday. The atmosphere along the way to the apartment is not as different as that in Medan.
Afterwards we went to The Killing Field historical museum, Choeung Ek Genocidal Center. More than twenty years ago I watched the “The Killing Field” movie at one of the cinemas in Bandung. And now I had the chance to see directly the effects of the Pol Pot regime violence.

The place of the victims of Pol Pot’s violence’s skulls

( standing in front of the building is Laura - my niece)

Unfortunately the building was a modern building, it did not support the tragic atmosphere. However to see that many skulls interacting my humanity. I hope such human tragedy will never happen again.

Marida in front of the place where 450 people were executed.

Pol Pot’s killing methods were believed to be more violent than Hitler’s. Pol Pot’s regime liked to do psychic torture to their victims before executing them by scaring them. At the rightside of the front yard, there is an open corridor where we could see many documented pictures of the former leaders of Cambodia killed by Pol Pot's regime. There are 7 other separate locations around the park which were used to execute groups of people in different ways.

The photos during disinterment at Choeung Ek at the end of 1980

From the Genocidal museum, we stopped by at the souvenir shops. I bought the book When Broken Glass Float and the DVD of The Killing Field so the kids too can watch this tragedy of humanity that happened in Cambodia.

L-R : Tuk-tuk driver, Erna, Marida, Esther, Elly

Heading for my cousin's place. Took a short rest. At first, we wanted to go to the saloon to massage our feet which have gone sore. But there were no saloon open that day, due to Khmer New Year’s day. So we went to Phsar Russie, the central market in Phnom Penh. Here we found the original features of Cambodian art (wood, sandstone, marble, silver and bronze statues), pottery, carved wood, silver work, Cambodian hand-woven silk etc. Finally we took a city tour by tuk-tuk, a cart pulled by motorcycle.


Mike Sicily said...

Seems like a really great place to remember the sad lessons of history.
A great trip anyway!

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