Hotel International Phnom Penh

On a recent visit to Cambodia I spotted the old Hotel International Phnom Penh from my own hotel’s balcony. Obviously this old girl has seen much better days and must have been an elegant hotel in its heyday. Sadly though, I couldn’t locate any old photos of the Hotel International Phnom Penh in prime condition, it would have been great to sit the images side by side for a comparison.

If you look closely at the old building (click image for larger version), it’s been divided up into tiny apartments and even more squalid living quarters have been built (I use the term built fairly loosely), on the roof. The only thing remaining of the original hotel facade is the once elegant old domed column with its faded sign and rusty awning over what must have been the “grand entrance” at the front.

No doubt this relic from the past would have many tales and some dark secrets lurking amongst the dust and vermin within its framework.

Hotel International Phnom Penh

ever changing face of Sai Gon

The small hems (alleys) in this city are a never-ending source of fascination. If I get bored with working in my home office the thing to do is head off in some new direction and get lost among the thousands of alleys that criss-cross most residential city blocks.

However, the rapidity with which the hems are changing is quite mind boggling as the older house are being torn down and replaced with larger modern dwellings. Very often, people of poor means in tiny old houses are being bought out by the more affluent because the land is becoming so valuable, especially close to the centre of Sai Gon.

In a way it’s a pity that all the old houses will eventually disappear and an Australian friend of mine, upon seeing the quaint old house below commented, “houses like that should be preserved”. However, that idea is impractical as the population increases and building blocks become scarce.

Apart from that, despite a romantic appearance, most old house would be dismal to occupy, many having no running water or adequate light and ventilation etc.

Old houses like this…

old house

are being demolished every day…


to make way for modern dwellings like this…

new house