Choung Ek or The Killing Fields is a rather sombre place where many hundreds of thousands of people were executed.
I have been to Phnom Penh 8 times either passing through or gathering photos and revisiting Angkor Wat.
But I had always skirted Choung Ek.
Maybe the visit to Toul Sleng prison camp was enough for me.
I have never felt comfortable around sites of such suffering. It still hangs in the air and I don't relish the sadness of it all.
But I finally went to the killing Fields today. I really didn't want to see another Genocidal "Place of interest".
It's a side of Cambodia's history that I'd rather not spend too much time contemplating.
It is sad that it happened and I know we must not forget but it really is sad.
The Killing Fields (Choeung Ek Genocidal Center) has 129 mass graves with over 8,000 bodies found thus far at the site.
It may not sound much in comparison to the estimated 3,000,000 victims of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot but it is the largest "Known" mass grave site in Cambodia. The memorial Charnel was built in 1988.
Pol Pot rose to power in the late seventies. When he did, he soon embarked on one of the bloodiest killing sprees known to man. He targeted the intellectuals. That included anyone with any kind of academic background.
This is common practice amongst the brutally repressive. Get rid of the thinkers and the rest aren't able to oppose. The Killing Fields are considered a National cemetery so you can't go and summon ghosts there at night.
The Killing Fields is Located at:
I took a motorbike of my own. Driving in the city is not bad and the bikes are small (80-100cc), light and easy to drive with automatic gearing. You don't need a driver's license but the police will stop you if you break any traffic laws.
Keep no more than $3USD visible in your wallet and the rest hidden in your sock or the bottom of your shoe. The police will demand $10USD from you but if you open your wallet and all they see is $3USD, they will moan, take the cash and wave you on.
I've been pulled over by police twice and I've driven a motorbike hundreds of times. It doesn't happen often and maybe never if you obey the road rules.
The Motorbike costs $3USD a day. I got mine from Lucky Lucky's Motorcycle.
Lucky Lucky's Motorcycle.
They are holding my passport as collateral for the motorbike bike so I'm getting my Vietnamese 30day visa processed at the same time. They Quoted me $28USD for the visa when everyone else was at $32USD and up! And I shopped around a lot.
Maybe It was a deal because I'm also renting the motorbike but check this place out for Visas to Vietnam if other places are quoting you over $30USD.
Gas is so cheap that you will spend about a dollar and a half US to get from anywhere in Phnom Penh city center to the Choung Ek and back.
Most Motorbike Taxis will ask $10USD to take you there and back and then an extra dollar for every stop you make along the way. Rarely will you get a price under $10USD but I have seen heavy bartering go down to $8.50USD.
Getting to the Killing Fields
All you have to do is get on the main road of Monivong Boulevard until you see Charles De Gaulle street. Any map from your Guesthouse or hotel will clearly mark these 2 roads.
Once you are on Charles De Gaulle then just follow it leading out of the city. Don't turn off this road. Follow it straight regardless of all the signs that conflict with each other and tell you that you're on some other road.
Sections of the road will veer off right and left but stay straight and you'll be fine.
You'll find it and by renting yourself a motorbike, you can do it for less money and gain greater freedom to explore the city and take detours on your way out there or coming back.
They also do a tour around the city that includes a stop at the Killing Fields.
Tickets are $6USD but there has to be a minimum of 4 passengers. Always a catch.
Choung Ek (Killing Fields) are not that difficult to find but getting there can be difficult because it is located 15km outside of the city.
The roads get worse as you get out there and often take confusing directions because there are so few landmarks.
It's actually very easy to find the killing fields despite what everyone will tell you. When you ask, they scrunch up their faces as though biting a lime.
"Oh, very far. And no easy to find. But for $15USD..."
You get the picture. They are just trying to make a living at your expense but finding the killing Fields was the easiest thing I ever went looking for. And to be quite honest the drive out there and back was the best part.
As of today, July 17th 2007, the roads have finally been paved right up to the doorway of the Killing Fields. It had been a dirt road for as long As I can remember.
I did drive part way out to the Killing Fields a few years ago but it began to rain and the roads were like mud patties. In fact there were stories of cows going missing but they attributed it to aliens visiting us from Outer Space.
The story became old news until they dug up the roads to pave them and found the poor dead cows buried deep under the mud!
This video below is a tour that I filmed on July 20th 2007. I hope it gives you a good preview and help you decide if it's worth your time making the trip out to the Killing Fields.
The Killing Fields Comments
Ask any questions you might have about the Killing Fields here.
This video is an extension of the previous. It is a tour of the mass graves around the Main Monument and even some beautiful footage of the landscape. It's such a peaceful place that is the antithesis of the horror of the past.
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