Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Audio guides

Victims at Choeung Ek - picture taken in 1998
If you weren't aware, visitors to the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek can now explore the site at their own pace with an audio handset. The broadcast is superbly produced and comes with an accompanying map of the site. You can use the audio tour in conjunction with your local tour guide for the best experience. Or simply take the tour yourself, on your tod. The tour begins with a general history of the Khmer Rouge rise to power and takeover on 17 April 1975. It continues with an intense interview with Chief Tuol Sleng interrogator Him Huy recounting his actions at the prison. Other sections deal with the mass grave sites and the foundation of key buildings that existed at that time. The podcast includes some harrowing survivor stories, including a lucid account from Youk Chhang, the Cambodian-American Director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam). It is possible to listen to highlighted sections of the tour and complete the moving experience in about 30 minutes. Visitors who choose to listen to the complete audio tour will need to set aside about one hour. It is possible to pause and rewind at any time if you want to hear something again or share some thoughts with a pal. The audio tour includes music from renowned Cambodian composer Him Sophy. The cost of the audio tour is $5 including your entry fee. I wouldn't be surprised if this is adopted by Tuol Sleng in the not too distant future. And for that matter, the National Museum, where the in-house guides leave a lot to be desired.

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