A visit to the notorious S-21 should be followed by a short trip outside the city to the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek. It doesn’t seem appropriate to take too many photos here, as it is a place where thousands of innocent people lost their lives. Upon arrival, your attention is drawn by the large Buddhist stupa dominating the green garden setting. As you approach it closely, your eyes move to the stacked shelves of the skulls of victims, recovered from many of the 129 mass graves dotted around the site.
You tread carefully as you walk because each shower of rain exposes bones, teeth and fragments of clothing in the soil beneath your feet. This place is peaceful now with its beautiful gardens and the birds and butterflies flitting between the plants. But each stop along the path tells the story of the chilling events that occurred there during the rule of the Khmer Rouge. There are trees where infants were killed, a mass grave where all heads had been removed, a palm tree with razor sharp branches used to cut the throats of victims and so on. It is a place you need to see if you visit Cambodia, and it’s likely you will leave with more questions than answers. It’s a reminder to the world that a crime against humanity of the huge scale of the Khmer Rouge slaughter of Cambodian civilians should never happen again.