I've just been on a trip to Cambodia with my friend Gerrit, who came over from Japan. I had actually already been once before in 2000 and was interested to see how much Cambodia had come on since then. To be quite honest, the answer is not a lot, except for the area right down by the river, which has become extremely touristified, and also along the main boulevards, where some quite impressive new hotels have sprung up.
Basically, though, Phnom Penh remains a rough, dirty city with limited amenities, stifling traffic and shockingly dangerous driving. Nevertheless, there's no denying its attractions - the royal palace, ubiquitous temples, French colonial architecture, the reminders of the Khmer Rouge and a stunning location at the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. Khmer cuisine is also a pleasant surprise. Softer and milder than Thai cuisine, I think it suits westerners better actually.
The terrible reminders of the Pol Pot regime
Anyway, we spent three days here, which included trips to the Killing Fields and the Toul Sleng S-21 interrogation centre (read torture camp). We also rented motorbikes and rode out in the country around. Flat terrain with numerous but isolated toddy palms is the main feature of the Cambodian landscape.
S-21 cells where detainees were kept
Typical Cambodian landscape