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S21 or Killing Fields?

Singapore
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18 posts
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S21 or Killing Fields?

Hi there, I will be travelling to Phnom Penh with my husband and my 9-yr old son come this March. If we have only 2-3 hours to spare, which would be a better place to visit - S21 or Killing Fields? I am a bit worried whether it will be too ' shocking' or 'morbid' for my son. We have travelled with him when he was around 4 years old to War Remnants Museum at Ho Chi Minh. He was not too 'affected' then, but I am not sure whether if it was because he was too young then. Would appreciate some advice.

Dublin, Ireland
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1. Re: S21 or Killing Fields?

If it was me, Id rather fit both in 3 hours. It will be quick but not too bad..

Both are pretty special sites. I don't see the problem with bringing a 9 year old. Children should be educated not hidden from the world but that is my opinion :D

Adelaide
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2. Re: S21 or Killing Fields?

You might care to read this thread on the topic.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g293940-i9551-k709…

You are in the best position to know what is best for your child. I couldn't disagree more with poster 1. These are not sites to be rushed through, or simply ticked off a bucket list. and they are very confronting places.

Dunsborough...
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3. Re: S21 or Killing Fields?

I'd do S21, much more informative and you will get a better understanding of the Khmer Rouge and the horrible history. I do however have three children around that age and I wouldn't take them there. Don't want to be faced with the questions they may ask. It is brutal what occured there, and some of the artwork on the walls depict what happened there without having to use your imagination. .

Hobart, Australia
13 posts
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4. Re: S21 or Killing Fields?

Killing fields is indeed a harrowing experience. My partner and I decided to skip getting a guide for the prison and that was a bit of a mistake to be honest because we ended up walking away from the prison feeling like we hadn't gotten that much out of it.

Killing fields is a bit further out and something to take in to consideration is whether your partner is sensitive about crying infront of your son. I know that sounds weird but I know a lot of men are uncomfortable with that and I can definitely tell you this isn't an ordinary 'war museum' and I didn't see a single person who wasn't reduced to full sobs.

At the jail the is a building full of photos. As I said, we didn't get a guide so we weren't really sure what was going on in a lot of the pictures because a lot aren't labeled in English and we can't read khmer but I did see a picture of a man with his face caved in and that was the end of it for me.

The jail is close in to town. We stayed at a lovely hotel called the monument and it was about 5 to 10 minutes by tuk tuk to S21 from there.

Whatever you do, it will be gut wrenching and you'll leave feeling different to the way you felt before it. If you decide the jail I would DEFINITELY recommend getting a guide but, from our experiences, the killing fields were the bigger and more affecting and informative experience.

Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: S21 or Killing Fields?

If i could only go to one i think i would choose the Killing fields.

Sydney
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6. Re: S21 or Killing Fields?

I'm still undecided. My youngest is 2 so won't know what's going on. He's very well behaved and knows how to be quiet. My other two are 10 and 8 so they will get it completely. I think I lean more towards the camp that children should be educated on the horrors that occurred and that shielding them does them no good in the long run, we take them around the world so they can experience culture and history and this is such a big part of Cambodia that I think that they should know. My children don't have nightmares though, of course I wouldn't take highly sensitive children prone to nightmares etc.

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Perth
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459 posts
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7. Re: S21 or Killing Fields?

I would take my 16 year old but not my 12 year old to the killing fields. They are "wired differently". If i was to take my 12 year old, I would not get headphones for him. Last year when I went by myself ( and it may still be the same) you would listen to a description at what happened at each signpost. Then you could listen to an optional extra story. You could get headphones and skip the extra story. Alternatively I would sit outside or do a little bit of it, explaining a "milder" version and saying we are honouring the victims.

To be honest i was well read and held it together until the baby tree. It was very confronting. The other lady i traveled with said she would never take kids.

Singapore
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8. Re: S21 or Killing Fields?

Thank you all for your advice. We have decided to go to S21 due to time constraint. We will go to the Killing Fields when our son is older. We will be bringing an eye mask for our son (or me) if it gets too much...

Portsoy, United...
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9. Re: S21 or Killing Fields?

I don't have kids but I'm a teacher (primary and secondary) and went to both places just over a week ago. I wouldn't think either site would upset any kids, and it's certainly not as harrowing as the War Remnants Museum in Saigon. The Killing Fields on balance is going to be a lot easier for a 9 year old to understand and it's not far at all in a taxi (though of course S21 was a school....). Things are anyway only as harrowing as someone has the context to put them into, in terms of their own experience. A 9 year old might or might not understand it all, and certainly not as an adult might. But then, I'm looking at it from the point of view as though I were taking a school trip out there (in my dreams) not as a parent.

Sydney
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770 posts
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10. Re: S21 or Killing Fields?

Thanks Paul, great insight