Backpacking Cambodia and Vietnam: Genocide Museum

We then headed to the Genocide Museum.  Our guide shared with us the story behind the pictures and structures we saw.  It was heartbreaking to be reminded that people are capable of causing such harm and pain to their fellow human beings.  Infants were thrown up in the air and shot right then and there.  Sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons were tortured and killed.

Genocide Museum (Photo taken by Angel Zorilla)

We asked our lady guide why she knew so much about what happened then.  Although equally unfortunate, I was hoping that she was going to tell us that the news was just such a big one that everyone became familiar with it.  But, she said that most of her family were victims of the genocide.  She just got lucky that she found out about what was happening earlier on that she and her niece had the opportunity to run to Ho Chi Minh.  That broke my heart.

Genocide Museum (Photo taken by Angel Zorilla)

When she saw all of us with tears flowing down our faces, she apologized.  She didn’t need to.  I, for one, am sorry that this happened.  No one deserves to experience what they went through.  No one deserves to be treated the way they were treated.  No one deserves such evil.

Genocide Museum (Photo taken by Angel Zorilla)

After the tour, Tin asked me what did it for me.  I shared with her and Angge that I felt for our lady guide.  I was imagining myself to be in her shoes.  Talking about it every time someone would want to know more about the genocide is like reliving the evil that begot her family and friends.  Why the lady chose this as her job, only she knows.  Maybe it was because she wanted to share her story with other people and talking about it through all these years allowed her to accept what had happened.  Or, maybe it was because she just wanted to remind people that despite pain and anger, brighter days are ahead.  I don’t know.  But, what I got was that she’s a very powerful woman.  And, her strength and her love for her family and countrymen give hope to people who hear her story.

Genocide Museum

We also had the opportunity to meet Bou Mei, the painter who survived through painting portraits of Pol Pot.  Heavy-hearted as we all were, being in his presence lifted my spirits up.  Despite what he was put through and what he witnessed, Bou Mei had a beautiful smile, seemingly telling me that everything’s going to be okay.  He is, for me, an epitome of hope.

Bou Mei

We then headed to the Russian Market to buy bags.  Then, went to the hostel to pick up our stuff and then to the terminal for our bus ride to Ho Chi Minh.

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