Early last fall, when I was planning my itinerary for the SE Asia trip, there was an extra day to spare. With 5 days already in Bali and Singapore (and the phenomenal 57th story infinity pool) awaiting, the options became extending Siem Reap by one day, jumping from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, or stopping in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. As you may be aware due to my post about the Killing Fields, the choice was “PP” simply to avoid crossing another border (much as I wanted to “hit” Vietnam for the first time!).
It was a good choice. The sites related to the Pol Pot genocide of the 1970s were important to see. But it was also interesting to see this capital which seems to be booming (I suppose “booming” can be a relative term…) out its past as capital of a Communist regime. I wish I had gotten to see the “before” Phnom Penh so I could better grasp how far it has come.
Needless to say, the modern building boom is probably good for the economy but some of it is just more of the same glass buildings one sees everywhere. I seemed to have stayed in a good area (right by the Independence Monument) as main streets and side streets around the hotel felt much better than in other developing countries. The park by the Independence Monument and the park towards the Royal Palace were very pleasant spaces near the Mekong River. Lots of families walking the area and hanging out!
Though only 24 hours intown, I feel I did a good bit for such a limited visit – including a massage at the hotel I stayed (La Rose Hotel & Spa). Phnom Penh was pleasant and relaxed, and it was a good stop as the trip began to wrap up. And now I can spell Phnom Penh!
Here some of the scenes from Phnom Penh.