Written by Tristan (aged 12)
Arriving at the Quad Bike Tour place of business, we were given a demonstration of how to use the gears and the throttle. As all of us kids were under 16, we were not allowed to drive the quad bikes, but when we reached the countryside, Josh and I were able to have a go. As we were driving around we were greeted by the local kids who waved at us or shook our hands and some even high fived us.
Arriving back at the tour company we caught a tuk-tuk to the killing fields. A bit of a contrast really, having fun on the quad bikes and then visiting a site where so many suffered horrific deaths.
The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, seized power of Cambodia in 1975 and reigned terror over the population for four years. The Khmer Rouge’s dictatorship aimed to make Cambodia a classless society based on agriculture, while ignoring the rest of the world. People were rounded up and set to the countryside to work on the farms, separating families and working under appalling condition. Anyone who protested or spoke badly of the Khmer Rouge or who didn’t conform, found themselves in prisons spread through Cambodia. It’s believed that 20% or around 1.7 million of Cambodia’s population were killed.
The killing fields are a former extermination camp that ran between 1975 and 1978 and is believed to have executed about 17 000 men, women and children. In 1980 some of the mass graves were exhumed, while other remain as is, although with heavy rain bones and clothing have risen to the surface.
You are given an audio guide which features Him Huy, a guard and executioner who explains the killing fields. During the Khmer Rouge’s reign, the once burial of the Chinese who lived in Phnom Pehn was taken over and used for executions and to house a mass grave and is now known as ‘the killing fields’.
Our first stop was the loading area where trucks came to drop off people, who though they were being moved to a new location but actually being brought there to be executed.
‘The Killing Tree’ is a very sad reminder of the fate of so many babies, who were held by their feet and swung into the tree trunk to crush their skulls. Apparently as bullets were scarce the use of bludgeoning victims to death was the chosen method. It’s hard to believe that mass genocide is repeated time and time again, will we ever learn from the past.
A nearby tree has speakers which the Khmer Rouge would play loud propaganda music to cover up the screams of the dying. Today at the end of the tour you can hear the propaganda music.
There are glass boxes filled with clothing of the prisoners after their execution and other cases with approximately 8 000 skulls, jaws, teeth and other bones categorised into male and female and also age groups.
Also in the center is a prison which held people overnight prior to their execution.
We did a tour with the Blazing Trails Quad Bike Tour.
Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre Tourist Information:
- 8 am – 5 pm
- $6 USD
Information updated in May 2019