Destination: Phnom Penh

‘So Everyone You See Here That’s Over 35 Lived Through the War?’

Over at Matador, World Hum contributor Lauren Quinn wrote a long, layered story about a visit to the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh, her childhood friendship with the daughter of expat Cambodian survivors in Oakland, and the silence that seems to linger over the war.

Here’s a taste:

Our tuk-tuk rattled along the unsteady pavement, taking us closer to the mass-grave execution site that is one of Phnom Penh’s two main tourist attractions. The other is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the former S-21 torture prison under the Khmer Rouge. All the travel agencies along the riverside advertise for tours of the two, sometimes combined with a trip to a shooting range where travelers can fire AK-47s left over from the war (ammunition costs not included).

Most travelers stayed in Phnom Penh only long enough to see S-21 and the Killing Fields, then scattered from the city. It was what Cindy was doing, and what I, if I hadn’t come for my particular project, would have done as well. I’d been putting off visiting the Killing Fields, not wanting, I’d rationalized, to spend the $12 tuk-tuk fare venturing out solo. Cindy offered an opportunity to split the cost—but more than that, she offered a buffer, a companion.

The wind grew stronger without buildings to block it, and I blinked bits of dust and debris from my contact lenses. By the time we pulled into the dirt lot in front of the Killing Fields, stinging tears blurred my vision.

“This happens every day here,” I laughed, and dabbed my eyes.

World Travel Watch: Hundreds Killed in Phnom Penh Stampede, Dutch ‘Coffee Shops’ Closing to Tourists

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

Read More »

Welcome to Khmer Rouge Land!

John Collins explores the theme park economy centered on Cambodia's Killing Fields

Read More »

  • « Prev Page
  • Next Page »