On June 1, 1991, I wrote a postcard from Phnom Penh to my grandma, aunt, and uncle.
I wanted to send them a Cambodian postcard, but couldn’t find any in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. Luckily I had an extra from a pack I’d bought in Vietnam (the postcard showed a temple in Nha Trang, a city in Vietnam I didn’t visit).
In the postcard I wrote:
I am in Cambodia and having a wonderful time. The architecture is so beautiful! I went to the Royal Palace yesterday, as well as museums, an old temple, and the Central Market. Today I took a short flight to Angkor Wat, a famous temple built centuries ago. The tour was about 3 hours because the plane left this afternoon to go back to the capital, where I am staying. I was in Vietnam for 5 days before I came here. In two days I will fly back to Vietnam and travel there for another week. I meet my dad in 2 weeks in Thailand (I can’t wait!).
My writing wasn’t too articulate as a 20 year old. What I meant in the postcard was that flights to Siem Reap (to see Angkor Wat) only took off once a week back then. So you could either go for the day or for a week. The place was a dump, as was the whole country, and completely ill-equipped for foreign travelers. The only hotel in Siem Reap, the Grand Hotel d’Angkor, had been left to suffer several years after my mom visited in 1965. Like when the Americans started bombing Cambodia.
According to the Raffles’ website, the hotel didn’t operate from 1970 until December 1991 (Lon Nol’s army occupied it, then Pol Pot used it for the Khmer Rouge, then the Vietnamese occupied it).
But I could have sworn that several people on my day tour stayed there for a week. Maybe it functioned more like an informal guest house before that December. I remember eating lunch there the day I visited.
So I didn’t post the photo of the postcard because I can’t say much about Nha Trang. Instead, I cropped the stamps on the back.
I’ve always wondered about that speed skater.