Amid all the beauty and wonder of exploring Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, a trip to the Cambodia Land Mine Museum is a far more sobering experience. If you want to gain a better understanding of the horrors of landmines and the lasting impact of war and unrest in Cambodia, though, it’s well worth the time.
The Cambodia Land Mine Museum came to be in 1997, thanks to the efforts of one remarkable man named Aki Ra. As a young child, Aki Ra was forced to lay mines under the order of the Khmer Rouge. Many years later, he made it his mission to return to the villages where these weapons of war were planted and began to remove them himself using just a stick and homemade deactivating tools. His was an incredible effort considering that millions upon millions of landmines were planted during three decades of conflict.
At the museum, you’ll learn about the still-present dangers of landmines and the brutal effects they’ve had on Cambodia and its people. There are also collections of landmines, guns and other weapons of war displayed throughout four galleries. The museum also functions as a relief centre and home for disadvantaged and orphaned Khmer children. Income generated from the museum goes towards supporting and educating the children as well as ongoing demining efforts.
The Cambodia Land Mine Museum is located within Angkor National Park, 25 kilometres north of Siem Reap, which allows for a scenic 40-minute ride in a taxi. While you’re away from the hustle and bustle of the city, you can shop in a more rural setting for local handicrafts and see farmers going about work in their fields along the way.