Northwest Cambodia

After filming the finished land mine museum for a couple hours, Tom and I left with Aki Ra to Anlong Veng. Travelling to Anlong Veng during the wet season usually leads to a few of these:
Flat Tire

Stopped for dinner at Rait’s house (friend of Aki Ra) before arriving in Anlong Veng. Early start the following morning to visit Sokha at her house and a Khmer Rouge photographer who has plans to open an art gallery showcasing his war photos. Took Aki Ra to meet Im Chem at her community hall afterwards. This was the first time the two had ever met and they exchanged many interesting war stories. The rest of the afternoon Tom and I filmed broll of Anlong Veng and Ta Mok’s grave site.
Aki Ra visiting Sokha’s familySokhaSokha, Sokha’s husband, Aki Ra, RaitIm Chem, JohnAki Ra, Im ChemTa Mok’s Grave

Went deep into the jungle the following morning to film some land mine laying and de-activating scenes. Recruited three young children who gladly and expertly played their roles to perfection. Had a very good interview with a friend of Im Chem’s and filmed some jungle tracking shots before heading back to Siem Reap.
Big Aki Ra and little Aki RaJohn after a full morning in the JungleRait’s Family

Less than 8 hours after arriving back in Siem Reap, we departed for Traipaing Thmar to revisit the infamous Khmer Rouge irrigation site. Some follow-up interviews with people we spoke with back in March, broll of the lake and surroundings, and an old prison building converted to a community hall.

Found someone to take us out on a boat to the middle of the lake where it is estimated that more than 100,000 people are buried. The lake has become a very popular tourist and vacation site for Cambodians who often know nothing of its history. The lake is not more than 20 feet deep at its deepest point but it stretches on as far as the eye can see. Politely declined the offer to swim and float on an inner tube as many of its visitors do and was very relieved to return to dry land soon after.

Sorry there are not many pictures with this entry but internet is VERY slow today…

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6 responses to “Northwest Cambodia

  1. who is Ta Mok?

  2. What an interesting adventure to such an awful place. What did it feel like to be visiting a place that has seen such horrors? Good decision to “Politely declined the offer to swim”.

  3. Ta Mok, aka “the butcher,” was responsible for implementing most of the “massive purges” of Cambodians who did not fit what the Khmer Rouge were looking for. Despite his previous actions, he gained much support from other Cambodians by arresting Pol Pot in 1997. Much of Ta Mok’s Khmer Rouge involvement was run out of Anlong Veng (northwest Cambodia) which is also where he is buried.

  4. Northwest Cambodia was filled with massive irrigation attempts under the Khmer Rouge rule. Their goal was believed to have been to set up an irrigation system in which rice could be grown all year long. However, the Khmer Rouge under-estimated the importance of slope in the fields so all the water pooled towards one corner of the field causing the rest to dry out. Many of the dams and canals that were built were also constructed very poorly and it wasn’t until international organizations rebuilt the structures that they began to be usable. A made made lake was constructed in the Traipaing Thmar area where it is estimated that over 100,000 people lay below the waters.

    As soon as the boat left the shore , I was overcome with an eerie feeling in my stomach that we were floating over a graveyard of lost souls. This feeling did not leave until we were back in the car on the road back to Siem Reap.

  5. Aki-ra has much money and the museum stuff never care the landmine victims children at the landmine museum. you will know real him and landmine museum if you ask the cambodian friend

  6. Bill,
    Thank you for your comment. Yes, Aki Ra has had recent success in opening a new landmine museum, publishing a book about his life, and, for the first time in ten + years, taken a paycheck for his efforts. I would strongly disagree with you, however, on your views about Aki Ra and the staff at the museum’s interest in helping landmine victims. I spent nearly 8 months in Cambodia and 5 in/around the museum last year alone and I have seen countless examples of staff and aki ra going above and beyond what is important to helping these orphans. Again, I thank you for your time and comment.

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