Cambodia is one of the Southeast Asian states bordering Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.
Following the footsteps of the famous writer Tiziano Terzani, he arrived in Cambodia in the early 70s and remained there even during the Khmer Rouge period until 1975. From the palace of foreign correspondents the FCC (foreign correspondent’s club) of Phnom Penh recounted the atrocities of the Khmer Rossi regime. Some of his words were “Nights are never restful in Cambodia. Darkness swarms with ghosts”.
Today the FCC is a restaurant and bar and enjoys a beautiful view of the Mekong.
Cambodia was colonized by the French Empire from 1863 and this dominion continued until World War II when there were the first strong signs for independence.
It is good to remember that the country was involved in the First Indochina War from 1946 to 1954 between France and the Viet Minh the movement led by Ho Chi Minh. With a short period of independence between 1945 and 1946 before France imposed control again until 1953 when there was the independence of Cambodia enshrined in the 1954 Geneva Accords.
In the following years the monarchy was not stable and King Sihanouk, who abdicated in 1955, founded a movement the Sangkum Reastr Niyum which gained great popularity.
The Second Indochina War also involved the United States from 1969 to 1973, bombing the border between Cambodia and Vietnam, killing some 700000 Cambodians.
The Cambodian population was dissatisfied with the situation due to high taxes and land expropriation, and in 1970 there was a coup d’état by Lon Nol and instead of the monarchy there was the Khmer Republic in power.
In the newly created republic, a Khmer Rouge movement formed in 1960 and its leader was Pol Pot. The party gained increasing importance until it conquered Phnom Penh in 1975 and established its own power as a socialist republic based on Maoist policies.
Within hours, Khmer Rouge forces evacuated the entire city of Phnom Penh on forced marches in the campaign. By separating parents from children, husbands from wives, sisters from brothers, the Khmer Rouge imposed a brutal farming society, destroying the values of the family. The time was declared as “year zero”, the currency was destroyed and the country was closed to all communications and international influences. A new, tragic period of Cambodian history had begun.
During the 3 years, 8 months and 20 days of the Khmer Rouge regime, it is estimated that about 2 million people died, or a quarter of the entire population of Cambodia. During the 3 years, 8 months and 20 days of the Khmer Rouge regime, it is estimated that about 2 million people died, or a quarter of the entire population of Cambodia. In addition, many people were executed in what are now known as Killing Fields. Anyone suspected of having a connection to the previous regime was murdered without trial. This means that most of the educated population was killed or fled the country.
However, Pol Pot’s control over the Khmer Rouge throughout the country was never particularly stable due to various fighting. The breakdown of relations with Vietnam eventually led to a Vietnamese invasion, supported by many former dissatisfied members of the Khmer Rouge. In January 1979, Phnom Penh was captured and the Khmer Rouge regime collapsed, allowing a devastated population to gradually return to their homes, attempt to survive and rebuild their lives.
While the Khmer Rouge were effectively removed from power in 1979, they were still recognized by the international community as the legitimate government of Cambodia until the 1990s, and even took part in the United Nations. This period was still very difficult for Cambodia as fighting continued throughout the country as the Khmer Rouge fought to regain control.
In 1991 the United Nations was given the authority to monitor a ceasefire in Cambodia and to open the way for free elections. They took place in May 1993, although it was disputed how “free and fair” they were. Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party came second in the election, but due to a coalition proposed by the FUNCINPEC party winner of Prince Ranariddh, it gained the most influence while Hun Sen was installed as Prime Minister, The Prince, on the other hand, also became politically set aside, even though he was king.
Since then Hun Sen has maintained a firm grip on Cambodian politics and many Khmer see him as the savior of Cambodia, saving them from the Khmer Rouge, uniting the country and bringing prosperity and foreign investment. Cambodia joined ASEAN in 1999.
The 2018 elections, which I experienced firsthand, confirmed the same political structure.
In terms of Cambodia’s recovery, for many people in rural areas, change is still slow. While the tourist centers of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap explode with investment and development. While basic infrastructure is improving (roads, school buildings, health centers, etc.) Many Cambodians continue to struggle to earn a living, complete their education and are very vulnerable to preventable and treatable diseases.
The best months to visit the country are from November to April. December and January temperatures are more bearable as the humidity rate while from February the hot humidity increases.
The rainy season runs from May to October.
For Italian citizens must be provided with a visa that can be obtained on arrival at the airport or at the various land borders. The visa lasts 30 days and costs 30$, the passport must have a residual validity of at least six months.
Remember to bring a photo card.
If you do not want to wait to apply for the visa upon arrival you can request it in advance online on the websitehttps://www.evisa.gov.kh
There are various solutions on how to get to Cambodia
The official currency of the country is the Rial but the second currency is the American dollar so we use the double currency.
Usually for larger expenses dollars are used and the rest is given in rial.
A fixed exchange rate between dollar and rial is used: 1 dollar = 4000 rial.
At Atms they also pay dollars and withdrawal fees are about 5 euros per withdrawal.
The voltage is 220V and the frequency is 50 Hz even if it is not stable.
The sockets you can find are A, C and G.
The hourly difference between Cambodia and Italy is + 6 hours when daylight saving time applies and + 5 hours when daylight saving time applies