Monday, March 23, 2009

Another Depressing Day

Day 376
I was up early but Nicole wanted to sleep in so I spent the morning running some errands. I was so annoyed with the constant calls of the tuk tuk drivers that I just ignored them all as I walked past and looked for an ATM. This tactic didn't seem to work either.

When I got back Nicole was up and ready to get going. We both wanted to visit the killing fields, but she wanted to go by motorbike (faster and scarier) and I wanted to go by tuk tuk. We got in an argument over it and attracted a bit of a crowd. I wanted her to go by motorbike and then I would go by tuk tuk. I didn't care that the tuk tuk would cost me more, I was paying for comfort. Nicole didn't want the money wasted even it it was mine. To stop the argument I gave in and got on the motorbike. I hated it, I don't know why I couldn't have just gotten a tuk tuk and have been more comfortable.

The Killing Fields, or the Choeung Ek Camp, is where about 17,000 men, women and children were executed and then buried in mass graves. In fact, 129 mass graves have been found here. Most of the victims were not shot, but rather bludgeoned to death to save bullets. Many were buried alive.

In the Buddhist religion people are cremated, they believe that this releases the soul. Before cremation the body must not be sealed in so that the spirit can come and go as it wishes. Due to this belief in 1980 the graves were dug up. It was decided that instead of cremation the bones would be displayed in an open stupa as a memorial. The is the first thing you see when you enter the site. On a shelf beneath the bones were bits of clothing found with the bodies.

The mass grave sites were still sunken and easily recognizable. On occasion we passed a bit of bone or a piece of clothing. One sign pointed out a tree with poison fruit that people, desperate for food, would eat and then die. Another tree was used for executions. Sometimes there wasn't enough time to kill everyone on the day they arrived. These people were forced to wait until the next day.

Next door to the site was an elementary school with kids playing outside. It was an odd juxtaposition, but an encouraging one. The site is small and we soon returned to town. That night we went to an Irish Pub for dinner. Afterwards Nicole headed out to meet up with some people we had met the day before while I stayed in and watched movies.

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