“There is no doubt that Cambodia’s capital is a feast for the senses – but visit at the wrong time and there might be one sense that overwhelms the rest”
There has rarely been a better time to visit Phnom Penh. The city finds itself at a fascinating juncture, where development has taken enough of a hold to provide visitors with any of the sleek comforts of a 21st century capital, but there remains more than enough magical mayhem to render even seasoned travellers wide-eyed.
When in the city, expect to sip a perfectly crafted martini while watching a family of six drive past perched on one moto; to assault a breakfast buffet loaded with smoked salmon and fine French cheese before spending the afternoon strolling through backstreets where barefoot children share the right of way with groups of strutting chickens. There is no doubt that Cambodia’s capital is a feast for the senses – but visit at the wrong time and there might be one sense that overwhelms the rest.
It is an established, and unmissable, fact that Phnom Penh’s garbage collection services are rather subpar. Piles of rubbish fester here and there, and while the situation is not extreme enough to overshadow the other wonders on offer, it might, quite literally, leave a bad taste in the mouth. The private company long charged with failing to keep the city’s streets clean, Cintri, is almost universally mocked and reviled. This month, we looked into the reasons behind the Cambodian capital’s trash troves, where we found exhausted workers, secretive finances and, thankfully, a few glimmers of hope (page 42).
Elsewhere in this issue, we shift our gaze to Indonesia to examine whether President Joko Widodo’s recent decision to disband a radical (though peaceful) Muslim group is a muchneeded show of strength or a forceful misstep that could undermine his democratic credentials (page 50). We also step inside the fascinating Malaysia Design Archive to chart the country’s aesthetic history (page 72), before heading to stadiums in Myanmar and Singapore armed with a calculator and spreadsheets as we compare the business models of One Championship and Ultimate Fighting Championship, the two mixed martial arts organisations taking the region by storm (page 64).