The character of my Boeung Keng Kang I neighborhood has undergone a remarkable transformation in the three years ago this month that I moved to Phnom Penh.
In this photo from my roof, every high building looking east was built in the last two or three years, probably less. The grey one in the foreground was just completed. The crane in the background (right) atop an unseen tall building with a dramatic elliptical shape is some months from completion.
As I have written in the past, one reason is the explosion of fast-food restaurants in my neighborhood, which is popular with expats. The other reason is the breakneck speed of new construction, which is obliterating pleasant mid-century villas and the shade of trees that are recklessly cut down on every block.
Perhaps I could argue against the change, though that would be folly. Instead, what I can rant about is Continue reading
Wat Sampeou lies approximately 12 kilometers from Battambang at the top of a high hill and well worth the long, hot and steep climb. (The temple has various spellings.)
Battambang is the second largest city in Cambodia, yet it feels much like a one-horse town.
As Wikipedia puts it (why write when others have done it for me?):
Founded in the 11th century by the Khmer Empire, Battambang is well known for being the leading rice-producing province of the country. For nearly 100 years, it was a major commercial hub and provincial capital of Siamese province of Inner Cambodia (1795-1907), though it was always populated by Khmer with a mix of ethnic Vietnamese, Lao, Thai and Chinese. Still today Battambang is the main hub of the Northwest connecting the entire region with Phnom Penh and Thailand, and as such it’s a vital link to Cambodia.
The city is situated by the Sangkae River, a tranquil, small body of water that winds its way through Battambang Province providing its nice picturesque setting. As with much of Cambodia, the French Colonial architecture is an attractive bonus of the city. It is home to some of the best preserved French colonial architecture in the country.
Walking along the street doesn’t Continue reading
It was the Chinese who introduced to Cambodia in the late 18th century what is called the shophouse, a building with narrow frontage and a store, open living area and usually both on the ground floor.
Sometimes, the whole ground floor is devoted to sales, and the vendors live on the higher floors. In New York City and elsewhere, of course, folks who reside in such a structure are said to be living over the store.
Here in Phnom Penh, block after block is lined with shophouses selling merchandise or services exposed to the street, in part because Continue reading
The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is taking early steps toward
Photo from the New York Daily News
designating as a historic district a large swath of West End Avenue from 70th Street to 107th Street, according to the Observer.
The LPC is currently surveying side streets that will form the borders of the district, said LPC spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon. But not until next year will the measure be put on the LPC calendar, the first offical step toward landmarking. Said de Bourbon: Continue reading