Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Killing Fields

I thought I was going to blow through Phnom Penh and head right to Siem Reap (as my main purpose in coming to Cambodia was to see Angkor Wat). I chatted briefly with another tourist on the bus about what she was going to do and see in Cambodia and she mentioned seeing the Killing Fields (or the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center where stands a memorial stupa erected to honor the victims of Pol Pot's Ultra Communist Khmer Rouge regime, about 12km outside of PP). When I felt a sharp discomfort in that conversation, I knew I must go see it for myself. Strong feelings (negative or positive) indicate the persuasive and unavoidable -- unavoidable because the issue will continue to reappear and to conjure itself anew until the hard work of honestly facing the issue is completed.

I engaged a moto for the day (only $5USD!). We left at 9am and were caught in the morning rush hour which made for a jarring and muddy ride. Many of the roads not in the center of PP are unpaved and it's rainy season (mostly it rains heavily late at night /early morning).

We wiped out in the slippery, thick clay mud (thankfully no traffic was around and we were not hurt). After we stood up and I realized it was slippery even to walk, I could not be mad at the driver. I had my second of 4 showers of the day at the home of someone who lived nearby which consisted of scooping with a plastic pot (likely rain) water out of a barrel at the side of the house while I was fully clothed (I had to clean my clothes too so that was the best way).

I got to Choeung Ek during a relative lull. That was good because I really needed to be by myself. I sobbed.


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