When I look back through my photographs from my first trip to Cambodia back in 2007, there are parts of our trip where I simply didn’t take any or only a handful of photos.
When we returned to Cambodia last Christmas, we just visited Siem Reap and the spectacular temples of Angkor. We took thousands of photos this time around.
But back in 2007, we did a two-week tour. And while it was a wonderful experience, many days were emotionally draining due to either what we were seeing, or hearing, in regards to genocide under the Pol Pot regime and the Khmer Rouge.
Its easier to put some emotional distance between horrific historical events and huge human loss, when there is time between you and the events. However as much of this is still recent, living history, its hard to come to terms with.
When your guide tells you of their own experiences of hardship surviving, tells of how close family members were tortured and murdered, its all a little hard to cope with.
At many times, it didn’t seem right to take photos, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Walking over obvious human remains at the Killing Fields, seeing thousands of bones stacked into monuments, seeing images of torture or photographs of thousands, upon thousands of victims, in what was once a school… its too much to take in.
And thus, the handful of photos below, are some pretty much it for these locations.
Near Phnom Penh are The Killing Fields where approximately 9000 people were buried in mass graves. The stupa at the site contains 5000 human skulls. The ground is littered with fragments of human bones. I took 3 photos in the time we were here.
Throughout Cambodia are memorials to the genocide and further mass graves of some of the over 1 million people who were killed from 1975-1979.
We also visited this Wat and Genocide Memorial near Battambang.