Thursday, April 9, 2009

Burnt with the rubbish

Pol Pot's cremation site outside Anlong Veng
Whilst there's little tangible to see, the cremation site of the Khmer Rouge's evil leader Pol Pot remains a priority site on the 'KR tourist circuit' in the northern former guerrilla stronghold of Anlong Veng. Pol Pot's fiefdom was in Pailin and out of his comfort zone, his demise came quickly at the hands of his former military chief Ta Mok, who put him on trial and house arrest before his convenient death in April 1998. The shack where his lifeless body was photographed before it was burnt on a pile of tyres and rubbish has disappeared, so has the toilet bowl that was still there on my last visit six years ago. The pile of mud and ash resulting from Pol Pot's funeral pyre and which sits under a rusty corrugated tin roof, has also reduced in size since I was last there, I'm told because lottery-ticket buyers have sought his bone fragments as lucky charms. Nearby a bundle of incense sticks and a neatly carved spirit house suggest his shrine receives visitors willing to revere his memory. It's hard to understand why, when this one man presided over the worst period in Cambodia's history that cost around 1.7 million lives in less than four years of Khmer Rouge rule. The site is easy to find as you arrive at the top of the escarpment and head towards the border crossing with Thailand, lying behind a newly-constructed guesthouse called Lichen. There was nobody tending the cremation site which seemed apt that the man responsible for Cambodia's darkest hour should be all alone in death.
The path heads towards Pol Pot's gravesite
A sign announces Pol Pot's cremation area
A spirit house stands near to the cremation mound
Flowers and incense sticks suggest the gravesite is tended to by visitors
A rusting corrugated tin roof covers the rapidly-disappearing grave
The spirit house and cremation mound of Pol Pot
The unremarkable and nondescript gravesite of the Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot
Bottles demarcate the edge of the funeral mound with flowers sprouting nearbyThe funeral mound of mud and ash looks like a strong wind could carry it away forever
A blue Ministry of Tourism sign announces 'Pol Pot Was Cremated Here'
One last look at the funeral site of the evil Khmer Rouge dictator, Pol Pot

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