September 2019, I had the opportunity to make a short business trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Over the last few weeks, I had shared my travels to Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, India, Moscow FIFA and the US. What differentiated these visits was the state of development. I must admit that the realisation in late 2018 that I had not been to many Third World countries resulted in my desire to visit as many of them as possible during 2019.
Landing in Phnom Penh, I was surprised with the great service and nice airport. Of course, I was a bit startled with the erratic traffic. While the weather was dusty and humid, the people were exceptionally friendly. As I had missed out an earlier opportunity to visit Angkor Wat, I wanted to make sure I got to see the historical Cambodia (Kampuchea) on this trip.
I managed to visit the elegant and sprawling Royal Palace in in Chey Chumneas, Phnom Penh, established in 1866. It serves as the royal residence of the King of Cambodia. I had always read about the former enigmatic and charismatic King Norodom Sihanouk. His son Norodom Sihamoni was crowned King in 2004. With a 15 million population and a territory of about 181,000 sq. kms, the country is one of the region’s fastest growing economies with a GDP (PPP) of about 26.7 billion.