Phnom Penh’s iconic arena
Published/Last edited or updated: 12th January, 2019
A magnificent construction that lives with a constant threat of destruction, the Olympic Stadium is a metaphor for the short-sighted mindlessness, grubbiness and political manoeuvring that attend a great deal of Phnom Penh urban “planning”.
Architecturally, the site is important. Designed by Cambodia’s best known architect Vann Molyvann (who was also responsible for the Independence Monument and many of Phnom Penh’s most important and recognised structures), it is an example of the 1950s and 60s New Khmer movement, which worked on creating buildings that were specific to Cambodia but included international modernist ideals. Built in 1963-64, the complex has since hosted the GANEFO games, Khmer boxing bouts, the disabled volleyball world championships, international football matches and boy band leader, Ronan Keating (yes, really, we’re embarrassed too).
A visit to the stadium suits the frugally-minded, as it’s free to get in. You can circumnavigate the 50,000+ seat outdoor arena and wander round the sports hall and the half-million dollar astroturf football pitch. Early risers are rewarded by the spectacle of hundreds of people doing their exercises around the concrete amphitheatre—everyone has their own particular style and ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 500 words.)
Nicky Sullivan is an Irish freelance writer (and aspiring photographer). She has lived in England, Ireland, France, Spain and India, but decided that her tribe and heart are in Cambodia, where she has lived since 2007 despite repeated attempts to leave. She dreams of being as tough as Dervla Murphy, but fears there may be a long way to go. She can’t stand whisky for starters. She was a researcher, writer and coordinator for The Angkor Guidebook: Your Essential Companion to the Temples, now one of the best-selling guidebooks to the temples.
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