This was one of the first large modern hotels built in
. It stands on Phnom Penh Monivong Boulevard, not far from Central Market and the railway station. At the time it went up there was little development along what was to become one of the city’s most metropolitan and built up streets.
The photo of the “Khmer Rouge” troops passing by the hotel on April 17th 1975 poses some questions. The ”Artful Dodger” character out front is wearing some strange-looking bandoliers and has a certain jolly expression which seems very exaggerated. He certainly doesn’t have the usual stoic and mean expression that you usually see in pictures of KR soldiers, and the people in the truck look to me to be civilians. The flag flying from the truck is one which has often been identified as a Democratic Kampuchea flag, but I have rarely seen pictures of it actually being used.
The crowd to the left of the truck are mainly dressed in camouflage military fatigues, of the type worn by Lon Nol’s Republican forces. I understand that there was a certain amount of jubilance at first on the streets of
, but I ‘m surprised to see Republican soldiers celebrating. I thought they would have been too busy getting rid of their uniforms first, as they were the number one target for execution in days to come. . Phnom Penh
When the capital was finally taken, it wasn’t by one unified army, but by several allied groups from almost autonomous zones of the country. Some confusion, and even a certain amount of fighting erupted between the various groups at first. In the first few hours of confusion, one particularly strange event occurred. Some people, perhaps students or military decided to join in. They dressed up as Khmer Rouge combatants, and paraded through the streets on trucks proclaiming victory. It’s not clear what their motives were, perhaps they thought they would just blend in and get on with things, but I doubt any of them got very far.
The first picture shows the Monorom in the early 1960s, the B&W is from April 17th 1975. The bottom two are more recent, as you can see it hasn't changed a lot other than the awning along the front.