Phnom Penh, Cambodia-Tears And Joy-“Pearl Of Asia”

Phnom Penh has been the capital of Cambodia since French colonization. It is the country’s largest city with a population of over 2 million. It’s the center of commerce, the arts, cultural heritage and diplomacy. Once called “the pearl of Asia” it was one of the most beautiful French built cities in Southeast Asia. It’s riverside stretches along the Mekong River converging with the Tonle Sap. 

Phnom Penh has had several terms throughout the centuries as the capital of Cambodia.  Depending on which king was in power the center of control shifted to various cities but became the permanent capital under King Norodom l’s reign from 1866, where the royal palace was built and is still located today. 

The monarchy operates in the same manner as the United Kingdom,  in Cambodia a king that reigns but does not rule. The current King of Cambodia Norodom Sihamoni reportedly spends most of his time living in France.

During the Vietnam war Cambodia was used as a base by the North Vietnamese and Vietcong. As a result many refugees fled from Vietnam swelling the population of Phnom Penh to somewhere between 2 and 3 million by 1975. When the Khmer Rouge gained control of the country in 1975 and began their genocide of the population they forcibly evacuated the city with only officials of the party and army remaining. When the Vietnamese drove the Khmer Rouge out of Phnom Penh and power in 1979 people slowly returned to the city. 

Riverside is a wonderful place to visit in the mornings when the streets are busy but the crowds are absent from the boardwalk. In the evening a stroll here before sunset is great way to segue the night into a happy hour visit to a bar overlooking the Mekong like the famous Foreign Correspondent’s Club. Excerpts from Tears And Joy-“Pearl Of Asia”-Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

About the Author John Saboe

I am a broadcaster, photographer, writer and videographer with a passion for travel throughout Asia. I love making connections and engaging with people. I am spiritual and seek adventure wherever I go.

follow me on: