The Killing Fields in Phnom Penh

We took a bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh and the drive was gorgeous (in it’s own way). Most of the ride was on unpaved roads with screeching car horns blaring past us as we sped through tiny villages. Children were riding their bikes and large families were sharing their meals around a small table on the main street. Modern amenities probably don’t exist in most of these places but life happily carried on. I love being in these countries because daily life is so different from how I grew up. Makes you take a step back and appreciate what you have. As we pulled into the bus station, it started to rain… another torrential downpour as we’re moving from one form of transportation to the next. Thankfully the tuktuk had rain screens to keep us “relatively” dry.

Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia – a large city full of western restaurants, big hotels, yet still has the feel of a traditional village found throughout the country. We didn’t have much planned for the city except for a visit to Choeung Ek, also known as The Killing Fields.


Some may recognize the name “The Killing Fields” from the 1984 film based on the experiences of two journalists during the Khmer Rouge reign. Some people have probably heard very little of the Genocide in Cambodia. Embarrassingly, I’m part of that grouping.

We started our self-guided audio tour when the grounds opened for visitors and we spent about 2 hours to complete the tour in full. We listened to the history, learned about the important landmarks, and the personal stories of survivors as we stopped at stations throughout the Killing Fields.  It was informative and heartbreaking. As you walk in-between excavated mass graves, pieces of bones and clothing are coming up through the ground.  Over time and especially after rain, more remains and pieces of personal belongings surface. While you’re listening to the stories and the history, you are appalled and disgusted by the heinous crimes committed but it takes on a new emotion when you see belongings and clothing articles of people from 1975-1979.

I can count on one hand the number of “life-changing” moments during my travels and our visit to The Killing Fields is one of them. I’ll never understand the motives for someone, or a group of people, to commit the crimes we see today in the news, but I also never expected to see such resiliency from an entire country after such devastation. Nearly 1/3 of the entire population of Cambodia lost their lives during the Khmer Rouge. Families are still looking for their missing loved ones and families are still suffering with loss but their spirits are gracious and thankful.

We met the most hospitable people everywhere we went.  From our tuktuk drivers, the servers at the restaurants, and the friendly faces at the hotels we stayed in, we saw happiness. It was truly remarkable. I’ll forever hold Cambodia close to my heart.

To learn more about the Khmer Rouge, please read here.


  • Steve Chomik says:

    What an adventure you all are on, albeit including some sad sites like the killing fields. Miss you!! Xoxo

  • Pam Chomik says:

    Incredible images! That’s why it is so important to learn and remember history.

  • Carole Chomik (Grammie) says:

    Beautifully written – dramatic pictures – sad reflection on what people can do to innocent victims – You have presented a piece of history and done it in a loving, caring way – Kuddos to you because you are sharing this adventure in a way that those of us who are following you feel like we’re there with you – actually in my heart I am with you. Love you as always – and so very proud of you.
    Don’t forget to write that book!!!

    • Kayt Adamson says:

      Thank you, Grammie!

      It was a hard piece to write but very important to share the history that very few people know about. I’m glad you feel like you’re experiencing this adventure with us – and we always know you’re there in spirit.

      Love you so much!

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