Thursday, August 9, 2012

Olympic Fever

After splurging on a plane from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, a $60 extravagance that bought us five hours, we dropped our bags at the hotel and ran out to enjoy the four hours of free time before meeting with Tim at my Cambodian "hell on earth"--the Perfect Genius Global Print Shop, more on that later. We convinced the tuk-tuk driver to take us to Olympic Stadium after many protests: "why? there's nothing to do there, "I can take you to the museum or the Royal Palace?" So, it's an odd request he doesn't get much from tourists, and it wasn't time for evening aerobics. We just wanted to check it out.

The Brutalist era stadium was designed by famed Cambodian architect Van Mollyvann in the 60s. He left Cambodia to study architecture in France under Le Corbusier and on his return became his country's first "official" architect. That's pressure. In its heydey, Olympic Stadium hosted the 1966 Games of the New Emerging Nations (GANEFO), a series of matches politically  engineered to counter the Olympic games. Sadly, just a decade later the beautiful stadium became a macabre site for Khmer Rouge executions.

After a lap around the stadium in the beating sun, we had to run to grab tacos with a friend. Ironically, said friend holds a slight obsession with the stadium and recently wrote a blog post on potential development threats to the stadium, read it here. I say it almost everyday here, and find it to be true over and over again: sadly, it seems that almost everything is for sale in Cambodia.