The Cambodia Landmine Museum is a bit of dark tourism that highlights some of the dangers that the Cambodian people have faced for the last 50+ years. Every year people still lose life and limb to unexploded landmines and ordinance scattered throughout the country. This museum is founded by one man who made it his mission to rid his country of landmines, even though he didn’t have any experience disarming them.
My second day of touring my guide suggested a trip to the Cambodia Landmine Museum as it was on the way home from one of the Angkor temples we were visiting. It wasn’t on my list of things to see on my own, but I’m glad my guide suggested. It is a lot further from town than I thought and I’m sure it would have cost a lot to take a tuk-tuk if I went on my own.
When we got there it wasn’t exactly what I expected. A small nondescript entrance lined with un-exploded bombs, disarmed of course.
Inside was a cluster of small buildings surrounding a very green pond. In the center of the algae pool is a large container filled with all kinds of landmines, presumably those that had been removed from the surrounding countryside.
The rest of the rooms were filled with displays of weapons recovered from the effort to de-mine the country. Other rooms displayed photos and information about the founder of the Museum.
His name is Aki Ra and his story is nothing short of remarkable. A soldier for the Khmer Rouge who then fought against them in the civil war, he went on to dismantle mines all over Cambodia to make his country safe once the hostilities ended. He started with basic tools and no experience before getting proper training and equipment from the U.N. It’s a wonder he is still alive.
After touring the inside, you head out the back of the building to see some of the displays. The museum is quite small, but impactful. It’s meant to educate people on the terrible problem Cambodia still faces today with landmines leftover from decades of war and revolution. It also helps fund their work removing the explosives and helping those injured by them.
There are a couple of creepy looking displays of war fighters made of paper mache. Apparently they were made by the kids the Museum’s charity supports.
There was also a small area made up to look like a live mine field.
Cambodia has gone through decades of war and genocide. This museum is a very dark reminder of the grim past that ended not too long ago. The Cambodia Landmine Museum is well worth visiting if only to remind us of the horrible things war does.
On the way out I slipped a few dollars in the donation jar, hoping it makes it to the children need.