New construction alters prime area’s ambiance, views

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.

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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

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Burger King unleashes a torrent of like restaurants

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I never have darkened these doors. In fact, the only one of the restaurants in this post that I have tried is bbq, below, because of a two-for-one promotion. That eatery is part of a Korean chain, and the food certainly is memorable. Memorable, yes, but I have to say it is not so in a good way.

When Burger King opened its doors two blocks from my apartment in January 2014, I tweeted half seriously, “There goes the neighborhood.”

Little did I know.  And how much do I regret that I unwittingly had foreseen what would ensue. Burger King cranked open the floodgates that caused an inundation of fast-food restaurants — which enjoy throngs of young Khmers starting late in the afternoon — along a four-block stretch of a street that parallels mine.

Our mid-rise apartment building is, I hear, only about five years old.  The lot it occupies apparently was a banana plantation prior to construction, and the greenery it provided exemplified my neighborhood.  In no small part because of our building boom (soon to be bust, I think) and the growing profusion of restaurants, gorgeous tropical trees are vanishing apace.

When we moved to the Boeung Keng Kang I area at the end of 2013, one of the chief attractions Continue reading