Sunday, November 16, 2008
Wat Kompong Tralach, a fairly typical pagoda along the road to Kompong Trach though this wat holds a reminder of the Khmer Rouge geonocide in the form of a stupa housing the remains of 750 victims of the Khmer Rouge regime of the 70s. Our tuk-tuk driver Pipi was the perfect guide as he had spent five years of his life as a monk at this very pagoda. In the south-east corner of the pagoda compound is a shabby-looking cement stupa with the remains of the disinterred victims arranged on two shelves inside, with skulls on one side and bones on the other. Pipi told me that a couple of mass graves had been discovered next to the wat and had been dug up in 1979. The wat's vihara had also been used as a prison and the walls of the pagoda were smeared with blood before it was repainted a few years earlier; "to scare away the ghosts" reported Pipi. It's believed that the bones of some 500 victims were brought to the stupa from another mass grave site at Prey Trapeang Sdao, a couple of kilometres away in the rice fields, where eleven graves had been uncovered immeditaely after the ousting of the Khmer Rouge in 1979. There are a couple of other memorials for victims in Kampot province, though on this trip I didn't have time to visit them.