Thursday, May 5, 2016

The city where there are no street lights

Cambodia is a country with a recent troubled past, I would say, even more than its neighbour countries. It was less than 40 year ago that the Khmer rouge ruled for more than 3 years leaving behind a trail of physical and psychological trauma along with 2 to 3 million dead people (from exhaustion, hunger or political persecution). It is strange to think that this really kind and peaceful people endured all that, specially when you look at the faces of older people and you are sure that they have been through some really rough years.

Phnom Penh itself, the capital, shows that the country is poorer than Thailand and Vietnam, but also that it is changing very quickly with a lot of construction work all around (which includes all the ruble and noise that come with it). And in all this change it still makes an effort to preserve its temples and to pay homage to some of the victims with Museums dedicated to what happened under the Khmer Rouge ruling. One of them is S-21, a former primary school turned to prison/interrogation facilities that is now a museum. It is painfully real and the photos of prisoners, taken by guards, look like ghosts of people that came back to tell their story.

And then we have the traffic. Most interactions don't have street lights, and the street lights that exist are not respected (apparently, there is only one where drivers and pedestrians actually respect street lights). On the small streets where the traffic is low, this is not so bad, but in larger intersections, this means that crossing the street is always an adventure.

Looking back at this post, it seems that I haven't enjoyed the city that much, but that is not true. It is not an easy city, no, but you can see that it has soul and that it is open to people from everywhere - there is a large community of ex pats which brought along a lot of restaurants. I am quite curious to see what becomes of Phnom Penh in a few years and I would gladly come back to stay for a bit more time.

Tuk-tuks, motos and these kind of bicycles are the best way to move around

The kids were some of my favorite part of the city. Some were quite shy so I didn't take a photo, but these liked when I pointed my camera to them! :)

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