Cambodia: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Sorry, it’s been a while since I’ve posted about the trip… I continue to struggle with figuring out how to balance teaching full-time, editing photos, sleeping, sharing about my experience in Cambodia, etc.  I might figure this out sometime in the near future.  🙂

As you can imagine, sharing about a culture and travel experience through photos is a challenge.  It’s difficult to present a cohesive narrative, so I appreciate your willingness to follow along with the randomness of some of my posts.  Click here to see previous posts from my trip.

When I was given the opportunity to go to Cambodia, I told my friends who live there that I wanted to experience as much as I could of life there: including the good, the bad, and the ugly (knowing that all countries and cultures have good and bad to discover).  The day I’m presenting to you on this post included all of those things.  While in Battambang, I was given the opportunity to visit the Killing Caves of Phnom Sampeau.  A lovely Khmer woman from CGI came with me in the TukTuk and helped me find my way there.  I experienced a lot of the good of Khmer culture and country and some of the bad and ugly too… a typical Camobian pop bottle gas station, a moto ride, nice and helpful people, seeing beautiful artistry and a beautiful view of the countryside, and a very sad visit to a cave where thousands of killings took place in the 70’s.

Once arriving at the bottom of the mountain (or some may call it a really big hill… it’s about 12 km from Battambang), the next leg of the journey involved riding a moto up to the temple (with apologies to my father who is not a fan of such unsafe transportation!).  We had to stop for gas from the roadside “gas station” (aka old pop bottles filled with gasoline of varying types for easy moto fill-up).

A Khmer “gas station”

Filling up for our ride up the mountain.

Once there, I was able to see a freshly painted Buddhist temple still under construction.

This type of scaffolding was common throughout the country.

Then my guide led me to the Killing Caves of Phnom Sampeau.  This is a cavern area where the Khmer Rouge performed about 10,000 killings of Khmer people by throwing them off a ledge and into the cave below (please be aware that some of the photos below are very sad and disturbing).  The cave is now the home of a reclining Buddha and a memorial to the people killed there in the late 70’s.

A painting depicting the killings performed by the Khmer Rouge in that location

At the top of the staircase looking down toward the cave.

Before going down the stairs

Part of the memorial

The original memorial.

The new memorial stuppa

Sadly this is just a small representation of those who were killed in that place.

The official memorial

Looking up at the skylight through which people were thrown.

It was tough to process all of my thoughts and emotions as I left such a solemn place where such horrific things happened and then go up to the summit of the hill and see this beautiful view:

The valley below

There are some really great legends about these hills involving chickens, women, crocodiles, and other fun stories. I wish I could remember the details as they were pretty entertaining stories.

I’m not really sure how to close this post.  There really are no words to describe the sadness of seeing an example of what’s left behind from man’s inhumanity to man (something found throughout the world, not just in Cambodia).  Knowing there will be more posts about the bad and ugly that I saw in Cambodia, I can share that, overall, I experienced such good in Cambodia that I left feeling hopeful.  Stay tuned for the hopeful and thanks for bearing with me through the bad and the ugly.

4 responses

  1. these are wonderful ! :-))

    September 28, 2012 at 8:10 am

  2. great pictures.. you have an awesome sense of handling the camera.. keep up the good works,looking forward for more.

    September 28, 2012 at 8:36 am

  3. MOM

    Well done, as usual, Jenni. You expressed the good, bad and the ugly in a very beautiful way.

    September 28, 2012 at 9:52 am

  4. Pingback: The Market in Battambang, Cambodia- June 2012 « jenni mansell photography blog

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