Street 240 in Phnom Penh is the epicenter of the bohemian expat community. Most work for NGOs or for the U.N., as very few corporations have offices in Cambodia. So it’s not your typical expat community (such as in HK or Singapore). There’s a laidback atmosphere with several shops and cafes that are quite tasteful. Here are some places that I liked, in addition to the ones already featured by Vanda in the interview I published last week.
WaterLily is a jewelry shop, where everything is designed and made in Cambodia by a French woman who’s been living in PP since 1996.
The Shop is a delicious place to stop for lunch, a smoothie, and freshly baked croissants.
Chocolate is perfect for a..chocolate fix made locally by Belgian owners (of course!).
And nearby the Galerie X-em La (N° 13, Rue 178 Phnom Penh) had a very interesting exhibition of Cambodian artist EM Riem. He painted on rice bags the portraits of many children who entered the Khmer Rouge torture site of S21, a former high school, and never came back. His work is based on b/w photographic archives. It’s very moving.
In Phnom Penh, we were reminded of the atrocities and the genocide committed by Pol Pot’s regime in the 1970’s. The figures are hard. In those 4 years, 2 million people died in a country with less than 15 million people. Everyone knows someone who disappeared, and many scars are still open. This is also Cambodia.