Thursday, October 20, 2011

Part Two: Cambodia

Cambodia is one of the poorest countries on Earth. Life expectance is under 60. We got to see a different world during our time here. We experience equal parts beauty/horror in what we saw.

Getting around Cambodia is a lot of fun. They don't have taxis there, everyone rides in a Tuk-Tuk, which is a scooter that pulls a sort of carriage on the back. Once a driver finds you (they are very cutthroat) he wants to be your driver for the entirety of your stay. Here's a view of the pandemonium that you see every time you get in one.

The Killing Fields

In Phnom Penh we learned about an amazing atrocity that is still very recent. Pol Pot tried to exterminate most of the population of Cambodia on the grounds that they were slipping into western ideals. They had to be cleansed. He killed 21% of the Cambodian population from 1976-1979. In 1979 an astonishing amount of mass graves were found, as well as an appropriated school that was used for torture and abuse.

This building was erected in 1998 to house all of the bones and clothing that were found on the site now known as The Killing Fields. Beth and I agreed that it's a very appropriate monument for such a horrific event.
Inside, the bones are arranged by body part. Skulls, legs, arms, etc. are all grouped together.

If you didn't know any better, you'd think the grounds were a sort of wildlife refuge. The grass is green and lush, there are beautiful birds flying around. You can see the indentions in the ground in the picture below. Each one of those were mass graves. One of them was designated only for bodies that had been decapitated.

After The Killing Fields, we went to S1, the compound that Pol Pot used for detaining and torturing prisoners. It was a harrowing example of what a sick mind can create. How someone can justify what we saw there is incomprehensible.

We were in Phnom Penh for a few days before heading to Siem Reap, the major tourist destination for anyone visiting Cambodia. This is because Angkor Watt, one of the wonders of the world, is located. This is an ancient civilization that some Spaniard found just walking around one day. The site is massive and contains dozens of temples. It was quite a spectacle, and I compared it to the Grand Canyon because it's one of those places that you'll see pictures of for your whole life, but seeing it in person blows what you already know away.

Here are a few more pictures that we took along the way. The flooding was sad to see, we were lucky that none of the roads we traveled on were washed out. If we would have arrived 2 weeks earlier our trip would have been very different.

We ate frog legs. I know it's cliche, but they really do taste like chicken.

We did not eat crickets. If Jacob or Jeremy were with us I probably would have.


  1. The bones remind me of a memorial they have in Rwanda for their own genocide. It seems macabre, but I think trying to understand the extent of the atrocities is the only way to make sure it doesn't happen again. All those bones may seem horrifying, and that's exactly the point.

  2. Agreed. It did happen, and trying to gloss it over or ignore it would be ridiculous. Most of what you said is written somewhere at the site itself..."this is shown to try and ensure that this sort of thing never happens again..." or something like that.

    Are you in Europe?