Admittedly, Cambodia is a country that I knew very little about before I got there. I never studied history in university and never took the time to learn anything about it. But it has a story to tell to the world and, after learning about it, I am still so confused how I did not know about any of it before being there.
I am going to get serious for a moment because I want to respect the country enough to speak about this. Everyone knows about Hitler and the holocaust, but I do not think enough people know about the genocide that took place in the late 70’s in Cambodia killing approximately 25% of their population – that’s just over 3 million people executed under the Khmer Rouge regime led by Pol Pot.
If you are interested in the history, here is a website I found with details. I do not want to get my facts incorrect, so I will refer you to here:
The reason I am mentioning this is for two reasons. First of, Pam and I visited one of the killing fields outside of Phnom Penh known as S21. It was an incredibly sad and moving place to tour through. How so many people lost their lives is sickening and heartbreaking. How this happened only a couple years before I was born was mind-blowing. Moreover, how I had not heard about 3 million people killed before was confusing.
The killing fields began to be uncovered in the early 90’s. At S21, while most of the bodies have been uncovered, after each rainy season fragments of bones, even articles of clothing, surface from the site. It is an indescribable feeling to see this.
The second reason I am mentioning this is to acknowledge the spirit of the Cambodian people. We met many Cambodian’s who spoke of loosing their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and parents to this genocide. While they have been through an unmentionable time, they are incredible. So happy and helpful. We fell in love with them.
It is an amazing country and I wanted to make special mention of this because they deserve our support and admiration to carry on like they have.