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Ways to Experience Wat Thmey (Killing Fields)
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Reviewed 31 March 2018

You are probably going to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat and other temples, but please make time to stop here, as well. The monks were forced from this Buddhist temple, and it was used as a detention center during the Khmer Rouge regime. The local people did not know until afterwards that many people were murdered there, not simple detained. Bones were uncovered in the grounds outside the temple, and those that were not able to be identified by family members have been preserved in this very visible memorial.

The horrors of what Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge did to the Cambodian people must be remembered. It is unimaginable, but it is true. What is even more chilling is that the murders of 1.5 to 3 million people were carried out by Cambodians, not an occupying army. Among other targets, anyone with education was killed! Think of trying to resurrect a country with virtually no one with any education to help..... Before visiting, you may want to see a 2017 film called Angkor Awakens - made in Ithaca NY, where there are many Cambodian refugees - as it helps provide context.

Date of experience: February 2018
3  Thank Penelope C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 March 2018 via mobile

I wanted to see this pagoda as I don't think that I will ever make it to killing fields in Phnom Penh. The genocide that occurred during the Khmer Rouge reign has had a profound impact on the Cambodian people. I discussed this with my guide and he told me that he estimates that 40% of the population died at this time and he doesn't know a family that was not affected.

The Khmer Rouge took power in 1975. The new regime modelled itself on Maoist China during the Cultural Revolution, and they immediately evacuated the cities, and sent the entire population on forced marches to rural work projects. They attempted to rebuild the country's agriculture on the model of the 11th century, discarded Western medicine and destroyed temples, libraries, and anything considered Western. Most of the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime were not ethnic minorities but ethnic Khmer. Professionals, such as doctors, lawyers and teachers, were also targeted. Religious institutions were not spared by the Khmer Rouge as well, and as a result 95% of Cambodia's Buddhist temples were completely destroyed.

Estimates as to how many people were killed by the Khmer Rouge regime range from approximately one to three million. Wat Thmey is renowned as Siem Reap’s Killing Fields from this era.

The thing that sets this pagoda apart from a typical pagoda in Cambodia is the glass sided monument is filled with the bones of deceased Cambodians found by locals living in the area after the end of the Khmer Rouge genocide. There are a few photo boards, to help you understand the history.

The site is now peaceful and has become a Buddist temple again. To visit this site is free. While I was there I found it interesting that a lot of Chinese tourists were visiting this site as well. Let us hope that we do not repeat this history. I was moved by this memorial.

Date of experience: March 2018
2  Thank 2torontotraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 March 2018 via mobile

The monument is a reminder of the atrocities of the war and some signboards in English explain the overall background but there is no real information as to why the monument has been placed here are where the bones are from which is a shame. There is a room with paintings from someone’s experience of the genocides which is on the grounds and definitely worth a visit too

Date of experience: March 2018
Thank sboleat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 March 2018

free trip just giving donation. quite a moving site to see . buddist monks are around the area . only a small area to see so a couple of hours is enough. local guide samuth muon is excellent contact him on facebook. very peaceful site

Date of experience: February 2018
2  Thank margwigan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 March 2018 via mobile

I was expecting to be disturbed by this visit and I was but not in the way I was expecting. It’s a working Buddhist temple that was taken over by the Khmer Rouge and used as a prison / execution site. It’s now a working temple again. In the centre is a monument containing the skulls and bones of some of those murdered. The glass which they are behind contained two holes for people to put money through. I found the site of the human remains of the murdered with money amongst them disturbing. Some lower shelves were empty(ish) and I was imagining monks going in and collecting the money from amongst the skulls. This disturbed me in a different way than seeing the skulls. It felt disrespectful. A friend later explained to me that the money is an offering to the dead and the Khmer and Buddhist view of the dead and bodies is different and not disrespectful.

Date of experience: March 2018
Thank 973lynr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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