Friday, June 22, 2012

Broken Bricks

This series of shots shows the same building on the corner of St 130 and St 5 as it has changed over the years. The first shot is by the esteemed Serge Corrieras from around 1992. The next shows it in what I'd guess as around 2006. Then we see it transformed into the notorious "Broken Bricks" bar, an ongoing work of art until its demise in 2008. The following shots show it a few months later while it was being refurbished. They did an excellent job renovating this old building. The final shot shows it today in 2012, with foliage blooming outside.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Scruffy Old Town

It's easily forgotten when we look at all the old pictures of the grand buildings of the administrative center and palace that outside of this the town was fairly scruffy and nondescript. Other than the quay and a few other solid buildings within a short distance from this there was little solid or fancy about Phnom Penh. An American traveler, Frank Vincent, had this to say about the place in 1872. The town, he wrote, was; " dull, nothing breaking the uniformity of its bamboo huts excepting a slender, pyramidical pagoda, one of the palace buildings, and two blocks of brick stores, recently built by the king; it resembles many of the villages along the banks of the (Tonle Sap River), only differing from them in size- in numbers of dwellings and shops." He continues: " As we sailed along the river, the first objects that attracted my attention were the small but neat buildings - chapel and schools - of the Roman Catholic Mission. Next we passed an old dilapidated steamboat, and back of this, on the shore, waved the national Cambodian flag - blue with a red border, and emblems of peace and plenty in the center ground. then came the barracks, where are stationed a company of French troops, and the residence of the Commandant or Protecteur, as he is styled , who represents French interests rather than His Majesty's....The city extends along the banks of the river for a distance of about three miles, and perhaps not more than half a mile into the interior; on that side there is a low embankment of earth, erected recently- at the time of Annamite trouble. There is no wall about (Phnom Penh), not even around the palace. The main road runs north and south along the river; there are a few cross-roads, but this is the street. It is about thirty feet wide, macadamised with broken bricks and sand, and lined throughout its whole length with little bamboo shops, the greater part owned by Chinese, many by Klings (Indians), and the remainder by Cambodians and Cochin Chinese. Many of the shops are "gambling hells"; some are used by opium smokers, the Klings offer for sale miscellaneous European goods, and the Cambodians silks and cottons; the Cambodians are celebrated for their manufacture of silk. The population is about 20,000, and embraces Chinese, Cochin Chinese, Klings and Siamese, besides Cambodians."

An aerial view of the city from around 1935

A view of the Water Festival in front of the Royal Palace in around 1910

One of the villages around Phnom Penh in the early 20th century

The quay in front of the palace in the early 20th century

A Buddhist procession in Phnom Penh in 1906

A floating village around the city in the early part of the 20th century

A view of Psah Thmei from the mid 1960s.

The road along the Bassac River in the 1920s.

The quay in the 1920s.

Most of these pictures are from

Friday, June 1, 2012

Psah Thmei, early 1960s.

A distant shot of Psah Thmei viewed from what is now Kampuchea Krom Boulevard, dating perhaps from the early 1960s. There is a huge contrast between the modern style hotels and buildings on Monivong and the traditional style housing in the foreground. Much of the area west of Monivong was almost rural at that time, which seems incredible as it's such a built up area now.
 This picture comes from the marvelous page. I've been collecting old pictures of Cambodia for years but there are lots of pictures on this page that I've never seen.