I don't really have the words to describe the experience that is the killing fields, but it is definitely something that everyone should make the time to visit if they are in Phnom Penh, or Cambodia in general.
It takes about 30-40mins to get to the killing fields from Phnom Penh, and you should only pay $15 for a tuktuk (two-way fare) or about $5 for a moto.
There is an audio guided tour of the killing fields, which is super well done and very powerful.
It gives a good explanation of what happened in this place, and also gives some personal stories of those who were affected by the Khmer Rouge.
The tour takes about 2 hours, so give yourself sufficient time to wander around the lake and hear the extra stories and music created by survivors.
I went to S21 the same day, which was a high school that the Khmer Rouge turned into a torture and interrogation centre.
I found this to be the most difficult place to go through: there are headshots displayed of all of the prisoners, including many women and children.
Some of their faces are so defiant and strong, while others look terrified and others still seem to have already accepted their ultimate end.
Walking through the larger classrooms turned into torture chambers, and others with narrow wooden and concrete cells erected, was overwhelming. You could feel the energy from all of the atrocities that the Khmer Rouge committed here.
The Khmer Rouge were a communist group that defeated the Nol Lon government. Once they successfully took Phnom Penh, the capital city and final stronghold, they forced all of the citizens out of all cities in Cambodia - then renamed 'Kampuchea' - and into the countryside to start their agrarian society free from currency and the West's influence.
They essentially starved the entire population and killed everyone they saw as a threat: intellectuals, teachers, doctors, nurses, even monks. About a third of the country perished during their rule from 1975 to 1979, when the Vietnamese conquered Pol Pot, the notorious leader of the Khmer Rouge.
It was definitely a heavy day, but I think it is important to pay respects to those who suffered in this beautiful country while the rest of the world was shut off from it and did not come to the Khmer peoples' aid.
I hope that one day human kind will learn from our mistakes and that peace will be profound.
In the meantime, may those who were affected by the Cambodian genocide rest in peace.