Visiting Battambang’s Killing Fields

Battambang’s killing fields are actually a group of ‘killing caves’ situated on Phnom Sampeau where the Khmer Rouge bludgeoned victims before dropping them through a skylight into the cave. These caves still contain the skulls and bones of many victims.
 
bike cab – motorcycle taxi, moto
 
som m’ruy loi – a beggar’s request for money. ‘som’ – please, ‘m’ruy’ – 100, ‘loi’ – money (therefore 100 riel, approximately 2.5 US cents at that time). Please forgive the spelling of Cambodian words as every source seems to cite a different spelling…
 
Krama – a traditional Cambodian scarf with many uses. They can be used as a scarf or bandanna, as a short sarong (for men), to hold hair back or to carry a baby.
 
the rice bowl – the fertile area around Battambang is known as ‘the rice bowl of Cambodia’
 
pigs – pigs are rolled in loosely woven cylindrical baskets and transported on the back of motorbikes. It was rumoured that they were fed marijuana to keep them placid. There may be no truth in this but it is picturesque and marijuana was traditionally regarded as just another culinary herb in Cambodia.
 
Whilst this poem was clearly inspired by undertaking this journey the form it takes was greatly influenced by Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘The Moose’.
 
Visiting Battambang’s Killing Fields

 

 

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