Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wat Sarawan

Said to be one of the five original pagodas in Phnom Penh, in common with the other ones there are few original buildings in the compound. The nearby Wat Ounalom was supposedly inaugurated in 1443, but there appear to be few if any buildings that are more than a century old, and most are far more modern. Wat Sarawan is remarkable in that it contains what are arguably the most ancient Buddhist scrolls in the country. Written on parchment, these religious texts tend to decay in the tropical climate and a great many were destroyed or lost during the tumultuous years of the past few decades.
One striking structure that remains on the site is a red brick tower that appears to be particularly ancient. The Serge Corrieras photograph of children playing in front of it in 1991 shows it looking on the verge of collapse. What is even more surprising is that in 2012 this building which was obviously refurbished in the subsequent years looks even older now. The colonial-style slatted windows are falling apart. As far as I know it is only about one hundred years old but one would be easily fooled into thinking it is much more ancient.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

January 7th 1979

Psah Thmei in December 1978 by Elizabeth Becker

PAVN/KUFNS troops entering Phnom Penh

PAVN/KUFNS troops entering Phnom Penh
Troops in front of the Royal Palace

A deserted street near O'Russei Market with abandoned Vespas

A deserted Charles de Gaulle Boulevard

Near Psah Thmei

Abandoned cars near Tuol Kok Antennae

Children found near Tuol Sleng

Children found near Tuol Sleng

Citizens returning to the city

Citizens waiting to enter the city. At first the new government tried to control entry.

After numerous incursions and massacres by Pol Pot's troops inside the Vietnamese border in 1977 and 1978 the Vietnam People's Army (PAVN) , along with the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation (KUFNS) launched their invasion of Democratic Kampuchea on December 25th 1978. They encountered little resistance, and managed to liberate Phnom Penh on 7th January 1979.