My obsession with traveling around the world came from two primary sources – both books. The first was Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Vern and the second was A Vagabond Journey Around the World by Harry Franck. Both of these books made it abu ...by dcampMonday, 15 July 2013
I think I must have been about 12 years old when I first started to seriously dream about traveling. It all started when I went with a friend to an enormous used book store (more like a barn) near my home in New Jersey. It was here that I came acro ...by dcampSaturday, 14 December 2013
On my travels throughout the world, I've seen many, many great sites, met a lot of interesting people, and tasted lots of food (some good and some not so good.) Although I certainly am not a fruitarian, I do have a keen eye for fruit – and on my tra ...by neytiri12345Wednesday, 02 October 2013
“A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step” - Lao Tzu. Well, after months of planning I’ve finally taken that first step. Now I find myself in a foreign city on the first day of my Wanderjahr. Thankfully (due to smart planning) ...by dcampSaturday, 20 July 2013
Zoos are a place that we've all visited at one time or another. Some are good, some not so good. Well, over the weekend I cam across a place that made me look at the keeping of animals in a whole new light. It's called the Pearcedale Moonlit Sanct ...by dcampTuesday, 02 July 2013
At one point or another everyone dreams about exploring the world and experiencing all that it has to offer. I first developed the travel bug when I was a young boy and its stuck with me for my whole life (and I'm not exactly a young boy anymore). ...by dcampFriday, 13 December 2013
Yes, I've been meaning to write a followup to my earlier blog post "Sunsets" – but, you know how things always get in the way... been busy travelling, you see... A personal goal of mine has been to see a sunrise on as many continents as possible, an ...by foamfollowerThursday, 25 July 2013
When the travel bug first hit me I wrote down all of the places I wanted to visit in a 150 destination Global Bucket List. Who would have ever thought that this wouldn't end up being enough? You can find the list by reading my blog: A Tale of 2 Buck ...by dcampMonday, 14 October 2013
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The Killing Fields
I don’t think I’ve ever visited somewhere that inspired a stronger sense of horrible and isolation as the place I visited today. The fact that it started out as a school makes it all the more chilling. It is formally know as Tuol Sleng, but most people refer to it simply as S-21. It is the prison where the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia brought anyone they felt was plotting against their regime. Sadly, most of these were innocent members of the population who wanted nothing more than the freedom to express their opinions peacefully. The Khmer Rouge tolerated no such freedom and ruthlessly tortured and killed anyone who challenged their supremacy – both Cambodians and foreigners alike.
Now, some 30 years after the last of the horrors were played out there is an odd sense of serenity about the place. The landscape of the school is finely manicured and benches are situated in shady spots around the perimeter of the grounds. However, there is no way to disguise that fact that between 1975 and 1979 over 17,000 people were brutally tortured and murdered here, with only seven known survivors. If there is anywhere in the world where the souls of the dead would linger on in anguish it is surely here. It is something that you are hard pressed to ignore as you wander through the quiet halls of the museum, which the school grounds have now become.
During my visit two things particularly were burned into my mind – probably forever. The first was a series of pictures of those who were brought to S-21 and never knew freedom again. While there were hundreds on display, it was the photos of a handful of Westerners, mostly tourists, who were captured by the Regime that made the strongest impression. The look on their faces can only be described as utterly devoid of hope. While still alive at the time of the photo, it was as if they were already dead. There are no words to describe it.
The second thing that I recall is a small room, which must have been a classroom at one time. The only thing in the room was a metal bed frame. This was where prisoners were brought to be tortured. The display showed how they were secured to the frame and then shocked with electricity. I can only imagine the cries of pain and fear that would have reverberated through the halls of the compound – something truly out of a nightmare.
After leaving the S-21 compound we then went to the Chueung Ek Genocidal Center. This is the network of mass graves that have become known as the Killing Fields. While not quite as confronting as S-21, it contains a monument to all those who died during the years of the Khmer Rouge reign. The monument is filled with the skulls of the dead. It’s not a place you linger for long and after a brief look around the grounds we quickly moved on.
As I drove away, I wondered how many other places like this there were in the world. If nothing else, travelling exposes you to the good, the bad and the truly evil that mankind has to offer. That’s why it’s important for all travellers to be sensitive to other cultures and show tolerance to things that may seem foreign to your own sensibilities. Because if we can all learn to co-exist peacefully the chances of any more of these types of places existing will be far less.