Home Coming: The return to the Khmer Rouge Field


August 2008 – tropical steamy hot weather, perfectly clear blue sky setting upon acres of rice field among tall coconut trees surrounded by cow and oxen.  These are the memories of an 11 year old boy in 1979.  Why am I writing about this and what is the significance? 

I am a survivor of the Cambodia Holocaust during the brutal regime of the Khmer Rouge headed by the ruthless dictator Pol Pot.  This month I am fortunate to be able to return to the very spot in a country that has survived through one of the worst period of human atrocity in modern history.  This is the land where I was born where I’ve experience what seems to be a life time of memories in four years between 1975-1979.  For more information about this period go here.

Cambodia is a country recovering from years of war and is slowly progressing both politically and economically.  As with any developing country, there are major gaps between those with privileges and power and those who are struggling to make a living for themselves and their families.  Middle class are non-existing.  I sincerely hope time will narrow those gaps.  Cambodia is a beautiful country with rich natural resources.  With proper use these natural resources and historical treasures in the form of ancient temples and arts should benefit all its citizens.  Again, only time will tell.

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Rice field of Cambodia

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Palm trees

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Today’s reality where families are forced to beg on the streets

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Site of my original home in Prey Svey, Cambodia.  The large tree on the right was planted by my father.

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Prey Svey’s water supply.  This ditch was the original water supply used by my family prior to 1975.  During Pol Pot, the ditch was filled with dirt so no water was able to collect after rain.  The people in the town had to walk miles to obtain drinking water.  In 2003, my aunt had the ditch excavated so water could be retained from rain.  Today, the people of Prey Svey are able to use this ditch again as a source of vital water supply for drinking and bathing.

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Ancient ruins of the Angkor Wat.  In the runnings for the 7th Wonder of the World and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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A humbling view from a massive temple of Angkor Wat.

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Country side traffic in Cambodia’s roads

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Former site where my sister was born in 1975 during Pol Pot’s regime.


Comments (6)

  1. Susan Kelley says:

    Hi Hong, thanks so much for including me on your list, unbelievable what you have experienced, what a gorgeous country!

  2. Hong,

    Fantastic pictures and an amazing story!  What a trip you are having!  Stay safe and we’ll see you when you get back.

    David

  3. Nov says:

    Hey Hong,

    A nice piece to sum up your memory of that sad, yet memorable, period of your life.  We are glad you are able re-kindle the feeling of the country side, the cows and rice fields – the image we are familiar with most growing up in the Pol Pot time.  Hope you enjoy the rest of Cambodia too.  By this time, you are probably with a more established civilization in Beijing.  Enjoy the rest of your staying and stay healthy.  Keep up the blogging – we will check for more writings and pics.

    Salatang Family.

  4. Cambodia says:

    As a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime, I can’t say I’m too enthusiastic about the current tribunal.  Trying a handful of surviving Khmer Rouge leaders is unlikely to deliver neither justice nor closure for Cambodians. After all, Pot Pol and many top leaders have already died peacefully in their sleeps. Not on trial are the countless lower level KR cadres who were "just following orders".

  5. Eilish says:

    Im a 13 yr old girl and this is a really good site to look up on for khmer Rouge!Good pics