Three friends watching an aerobics class at Botum Park at dusk.
Phnom Penh was once called the 'Paris of the East' because of its beautiful gardens and parks, wide boulevards, ornate bridges over crisscrossing canals and stunning French colonial architecture and despite its recent history some of these things are still evident. The canals have been since landscaped into long wide recreation areas and many of the bridges are gone but there are plenty of parks and some stunning examples of the grand colonial buildings remain. Their days may be numbered, however, according to an article in the latest Southeast Asia Globe titled 'Out with the old in with the new.' Sadly it seems although legislation and planning documentation exists on the Phnom Penh municipality website these buildings are quite rapidly being replaced by the ubiquitous glass, steel and concrete monoliths (often a private status symbol belonging to one of the countries 'Riche') that line the streets of many of the worlds cities- making one country look much like the next. One historian and long term resident is quoted as saying he believes '40% of the capitals several hundred colonial buildings has (sic) been knocked down in two decades.'
'They (Cambodians) do not understand or love the traditional or old style building' says The Secretary of State Samraing Kamsan, by way of explanation, 'You need to teach them to understand the value.'
Sadly it may already be too late.