The complex in the photo above was called S-21 by the Khmer Rouge. Today it is known variously as the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields Museum of Cambodia.
The facility had been converted from a public high school to an incomprehensibly brutal prison in 1975-79, when up to 2 million Cambodians died. Of the 14,000 ordinary citizens believed to have been incarcerated there, only seven survived the starvation, inhuman living conditions, torture and outright execution.
Toul Sleng is a 10-15-minute walk from my home, and I have occasion to pass by regularly. It is wholly visible from the roof of my 15-story building. Seeing it Continue reading
Players use various smaller or professional-looking footballs. Most of their goals lack nets, which can be as informal as a couple of sandals or the jerry-built one in the photo above.
They are a hive of a disparate activities, two adjacent parks close to the center of Phnom Penh.
Divided from each other by a busy avenue, the L-shaped expanses near Wat Botum and Independence Monument in Phnom Penh comprise more pavement than greenery and escape neither the din nor sight of traffic.
Weekend evenings are naturally the most popular. Yet they attract Cambodians of many stripes every night, though I sense none from the small class of elites.
Those who do frequent the parks seem variously to be students and office workers, proud lesbians, gays and transgenders, kids and their parents, beggars and monks. Many purposefully stride the length of the area with Independence Monument at one end to get or keep in shape.
They may be Continue reading
The main parking area. Vehicles jam the intersection outside one corner as they jockey for a space.
Night markets are an enduring feature of countries in Asia. The one in Phnom Penh’s Riverside neighborhood leaves me cold, but I remember being enamored of the first one I visited. It was in Hong Kong in the mid 90s.
Well, there’s a new night market in Phnom Penh across from a distant corner of the Russian Embassy and virtually within sight of the modern Aeon mall. As I walked there Saturday night for a look, a steady streams of motos doubtless had no other destination in that direction. Indeed, I discovered that is where they were going.
When I threaded my way through one of the parking areas to what is dubbed Jet’s Container market, Continue reading
Somewhat dated and romanticized view of “downtown” Phnom Penh with Central (or, in Khmer, “New”) Market in foreground. Source: Cambodia Hotels and Travel Guide
Part 2 of 2
In the first of two parts regarding whether moving to Bangkok from Phnom Penh was a good idea, I listed a number of pluses.
If you read Part 1, it will not surprise you to learn that Continue reading
Part 1 of 2
After three and a half years living Phnom Penh, I have developed itchy feet, a symptom of which is my increasingly frequent travel to other countries.
One country I have visited several times over the years is Thailand, next door, and I have much appreciated the contrasts between Bangkok’s, size, food and diversions to Phnom Penh’s. Smaller cities in Thailand have their winning characteristics, but I don’t find that they enjoy the same vitality or energy for me as the capital while they certainly provide significantly more opportunities for all that nature offers.
I have been wondering whether we should make our home there. We still own almost nothing more than can fit in two large suitcases each, so it is no problem in that respect to pick up and go.
But does it make sense?
To approach a decision, Continue reading
Visitors evinced keen interest in new developments at the Cambodia Real Estate Show.
Foreigners in Cambodia are barred from owning the ground floor of any building in the Kingdom of Wonder.
I finally found out the origins of the prohibition early this month when I attended one of 16 presentations at the Cambodia Real Estate Show, a well organized two-day event that attracted numerous potential developers along with buyers of luxury apartments and buildings. (Hey, you can take the broker out of real estate, but you can’t take real estate. . .)
It was not until 1989 and then in 2001 that government decrees defined the possession and subsequently, in 2001, full ownership rights of residential property.
Like most other countries in the region, Cambodia does not want foreigners to own a piece of the nation, no matter how small, as codified in Article 8 of the Land Law.
According to presenter Matthew Rendall — a lawyer who holds a Cambodian passport and is managing partner at SokSiphana & Associates in Phnom Penh — the stricture resulted from Continue reading
If like me you never have heard of Abadá-Capoeira, which is Brazilian martial arts, you are missing something special. On a whim, I was lucky enough to catch a free performance featuring half a dozen of its athletes at the French Institute last weekend, and the event was enthralling.
While the activity clearly is a sport, it is one more like a performance absent any contact, except by mistake. Abadá-Capoeira manages to combine the thrusts that remind me of jiu jitsu with the grace of dance.
With a name that I have no clue how to pronounce, the activity has its origins in Continue reading