Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Olympic Market - 1979 and 2010.







Just south-west of the stadium across Sihanouk Boulevard is one of the city’s largest covered markets. The pictures from 1979 show a huge open area, with a red-tiled covered market covering a fraction of the modern unit. I grabbed these from the 1979 John Pilger documentary “Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia. Much of the footage used in this film came from a slightly-earlier East German documentary “Kampuchea- Death and Rebirth,” which was the first film made after the intervention in January of that year which ousted the Pol Pot government. Much of the city was abandoned and deserted at that time, it was a brief period though, and life quickly returned to the capital. One local man described it back in the early 1980s as looking similar to the current Tuol Tom Pong market, as in a series of shack-style stalls with corrugated metal or tarpaulin roofing. Since then a huge concrete building has been built in the central area.
The first of new pictures shows a general front view of the market. You can see how the gas station and stalls behind it use the same sort of central reservation that is visible in the old pictures. The modern building covers the area bordered in the old pictures by trees and vegetation, none of the asphalted areas seem to have changed. The next new picture shows a couple of innocuous-looking corner houses, you can see that they are the same structures as those near the upper right corner of the market in the old pictures. The Olympic flame sign can be seen in the close up of the rather utilitarian-looking front of this market. The last picture shows the southern-side of the building with its interesting ribbed-roof. None of the shop-houses on the opposite side of that street appear to be more than a few years old, but the distant ones might be the same as those in the 1979 view. In one of the 1979 shots you can see the open ground around the nearby stadium in the background, it's mostly enclosed by buildings now.

5 comments:

chhmar99@gmail.com said...

thanks for those 2 shots over Psar Olympic. they brought back so many childhood memories. my house is on the bottom left corner, a 3-storied block my dad built in 1965. At the time much of the areas behind the apartment blocks were swampy terrain criss-crossed by dirt roads. i used to fish for Trey Kranh behind my house. the area behind the Wat Moha Montrey crossed by that black sewer was a large swathe of grassy areas where kids used to fly kites in Jan/Feb. in those days the Psar was itself getting established. the wide area at the top of the photos is where the bus station was. buses that come here are from the southern part of the country. country folks would come and ask us to use the lattrines because they don't build toilets in the Psar.. in keeping with the great french town planning traditions. under the roofed area on the right are the meat sellers. to the left of the roofed area are the fish mongers. the vegie sellers occupy the bottom left of the white area (opposite to where i lived). from then on to the right of the pictures are the noodle and vietnamese food stalls, and the the bric a brac traders: in the early 70's, they sold pilfered US army rations there - that's how i got my first taste of tinned peanut butter and cream cheese. the little white oblong structure on the left hand side of the bus stop station is where the military police is stationned. now and then they would catch some deserter/burglar/whatever strip him to his underwear and bring him here. now and then someone would throw a grenade in there too. there used to be a bunker north of the psar, around the perimeter of the Stadium. many of us in the militia were tasked to man it day and night. a 17 year old then, i theoretically had a choice between an unsexy rifle, a M16/AR15 or a AK47. the AK was of course weapon of choice, but being junior i was only allowed the rifle. instead of watching for the KR however I took the opportunity to while away with either an Emile Zola, or a translation of William Shearer's The 3rd Reich borrowed from the Alliance Francaise. from 1972 to 1973 when the battle raged around Phnom Penh's perimeters, at night i used to climb up the flat roof and watch US planes dropping tons of bombs. you could see sudden flashes of huge explosions against the night sky, and the soil churned up. seconds later anything loose will rattle like in an earthquake,and you could feel the air displaced by the explosions on your face.. the fun part was however saturday nights when the area to the top right hand corner is choc full of food vendors. i used to go there for the pong tear kaun (hard boiled duck eggs that are near their hatching time), or sach ko aing, and an obligatory copy of the Nokor Thom Daily sunday edition. cartoonist Ung Bun Heang had already made a name for himself then, a sharp critique of the corrupt military elite. now and then also the KR would surprise us with a volley of 122mm Russian rockets with their tell-tale whirring noises. when they ran out of those the KR followed up with chinese 107mm. less scary but still noisy. kids of my age would dare each other to be the first to run up to the roof and find out by the fire that may follow, whereabout the rockets could have landed, and shout down the news to cowering adults down below. once i vividly recall a couple landing a few meters away behind our house as i was studying logarithms. never forgot the Log rules ever since. the stadium was used as a heliport, and we watch those iroquois coming & going. and i could go on with the human misery, the mass of refugees who slept anywhere in the Psar's open spaces. how i hate that new ugly batiment built over my beloved Psar. hope i haven't bored you stiff with all this! cheers.

phnompenhpast said...

Thanks a lot for your very interesting and informative comment.

Khun Savoeun said...

when is the original year that the Olympic Marketing was creat??

Phnom Penh said...

As far as I know the market was built in 1962 as part of an expansion of the city, I'll check the exact dates later.

Ho Hors said...

How many shoe stores and cloth stores inside the market?