Growing up in the 60s, the nightly news reports were full of pictures of death and destruction throughout Southeast Asia. Out of repetition, places with names like Saigon, Ho Chi Min City, Da Nang and Phnom Penh became permanently ingrained in my memory, although always associated with fear and some truly disgusting images. Of these cities, Phnom Penh always stuck out. As a child, I never really understood what was happening in Cambodia (not that I truly understood anything happening in the region), so I listened a bit more intently when I heard the city’s name.
My confusion in the late 60s turned to disbelief and disgust in the 70s when the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot executed anyone who was educated or even appeared to be educated. He wanted Cambodia to have an agrarian economy and was going to make it happen regardless of how many Cambodians had to die.
With these being the dominant memories I have of the city, I was delighted today when I saw Phnom Penh on the list of cities from which visitors of this blog are from. OK, it’s at the bottom of the list, but I think it’s very cool.
Obviously, the days of Pol Pot are long over. I doubt that he would appreciate the Internet or, especially, the freedom of speech exercised in blogs. I’m happy that Cambodians have such freedom and access today.