Choeng Ek

I woke up feeling much better than the day before and was actually able to eat a proper breakfast, so it was time for some more adventure. Dan and I each grabbed a moto and rode out to the killing fields of Choeng Ek a few km outside of town.

Choeng Ek is the site of several dozen mass-graves, each the resting place of hundreds of “enemies” of the Khmer Rouge. The enemies included teachers, scientists, doctors, students or anyone else unwilling to be “re-educated” and become a part the new agrarian cooperative vision for Cambodia. Today, all that’s left is a dusty trail that goes around a bunch of muddy craters and a memorial pagoda. The pagoda is filled to the top with human skulls - its easy to tell that almost of all of the victims were bludgeoned to death. The team of executioners that handled the killing at Choeng Ek (most of them under the age of 15) received a steady stream of prisoners from S-21 and were under orders to conserve bullets. As time went on, they grew more creative and resourceful - killing small children and babies by swinging them against a tree, beheading some and torturing others to death.

Mass Grave Memorial Pagoda

After we took in enough of the fields our moto drivers really wanted to take us to a shooting range so we went to see what it was all about. We were presented with a “menu” of various weapons to choose from, including an AK-47, M-16, a selection of other assault rifles, handguns, hand grenades, shotguns and even a rocket launcher for the crazies. The prices were unexpectedly high - most guns cost about $1 / bullet to shoot - but still I couldn’t pass up the likely once-in-a-lifetime chance to fire an AK-47 so Dan and I split a magazine of 25 bullets. We were escorted into a brick corridor, handed some earmuffs and a loaded rifle, and then told to go for it. I don’t think I hit the target much but I wasn’t really going for accuracy… After we shot we posed with a bunch of the guns and then headed home. It was a weird day.

Water Hole Shooting Range