In Jackie Kennedy’s footsteps on the Cambodian Riviera

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In Jackie Kennedy’s footsteps on the Cambodian Riviera

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Sat Aug 17, 2019 2:47 am

Image
Jackie Kennedy on the red carpet in Sihanoukville, 1967

Stanley Stewart
MAY 3, 2019

Stanley Stewart finds old glamour and new beginnings on a once-forgotten coast

On a November morning in 1967, a motorcade of black Citroëns swept through the gates of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh amid flag-waving crowds. Inside the lead car was the wife of the assassinated American president, Jackie Kennedy. Her private visit to Cambodia was the fulfilment of a longstanding dream.

Travelling down on the train, expatriates and middle-class locals arrived to swim, to sunbathe, to mess about in boats and to eat the famous mud crabs. Prince Sihanouk had two royal residences on the coast, one in Kep and the other in Sihanoukville. It was on the terraces of the latter that the prince sipped cocktails with the former First Lady, overlooking what had come to be known as the Cambodian Riviera.

Knai Bang Chatt, Kep’s premier hotel, is composed of three striking Modernist villas. The style, much influenced by Le Corbusier, came to be known in the 1960s as New Khmer architecture, all angular lines and pastel colours, like some backdrop from Mad Men.

In a dining room of white linen, silverware and crystal, where colonial officials had once danced in dinner jackets, the sound of my cutlery was the only noise in the room. Waiters watched me carefully as I ate a divine sea bass, with a glass of excellent Sancerre. Outside this surreal place, an echo of a lost world, mists curled round the corners of the building then suddenly parted, revealing a spectacular view of the coast a thousand metres below.

At the top I found Telet, an 86-year-old nun, elfin, serene, tending a pagoda at the feet of a Sleeping Buddha. Her only son had died, she explained, in the civil war, so in her old age, the temple was her home. She began to sweep autumn leaves. When she turned her face upward, dappled light fell across her beautiful cheeks. I thought how lightly she perches on this world. We pray for lasting peace, she said.

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Re: In Jackie Kennedy’s footsteps on the Cambodian Riviera

Post by Duncan » Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:32 am

And who was it that said Sihanoukville was never on the banana pancake trail.
Cambodia,,,, Don't fall in love with her.
Like the spoilt child she is, she will not be happy till she destroys herself from within and breaks your heart.
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Re: In Jackie Kennedy’s footsteps on the Cambodian Riviera

Post by Anthony's Weiner » Sat Aug 17, 2019 9:20 am

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Re: In Jackie Kennedy’s footsteps on the Cambodian Riviera

Post by willyhilly » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:46 pm

Where was the Kings shack in Snookyville?
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Re: In Jackie Kennedy’s footsteps on the Cambodian Riviera

Post by Anthony's Weiner » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:59 pm

willyhilly wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:46 pm
Where was the Kings shack in Snookyville?

https://roadsandkingdoms.com/2016/cambo ... t-riviera/


KEP, Cambodia—

There are dogs guarding the king’s house on this quiet hill in Kep, on Cambodia’s south coast, but it doesn’t take much to scare them off. All the same, I feel more comfortable with the sturdy stick found on the dirt path leading up to the property. And the stick proves useful for clearing the jungle undergrowth that surrounds the path—the king left here long ago.

The hounds belong to a Khmer family that’s moved in to keep an eye on the place; laundry hangs on lines between trees, soup bubbles on a stove, and a matriarch in her mid-50s grants permission to explore further with smiles and a friendly wave. I don’t intrude inside—the contents, and anything else not held in place by cement, were stripped out long ago and all that’s left, apart from the structure, are bullet holes and broken tiles.

This former royal residence was once proudly part of a region glorified during the 1960s as the “Cambodian Riviera,” before war and a crazed dictator who wiped out one-fifth of the country’s population sent the country spiraling back toward the Dark Ages. Today, even as places like Kep and its neighboring town of Kampot have rebuilt much of their lost prestige, old wounds are allowed to linger in the form of dozens of buildings from this golden age left abandoned. Locals tell me they’ve been allowed to fall derelict for a number of reasons, but one in particular stands out: Why take care of the past, people wonder, when the past couldn’t take care of you?

At the king’s house, I head to the furthermost cliff point, behind an arched portico that forms the villa’s grandiose rear, to behold the famous view, over the Gulf of Thailand, of the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc. Here the villa’s long-dead owner, King Norodom Sihanouk, is reputed to have gazed out in sorrow and anger over the island’s lost sovereignty...
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