Posted by: Simon & Becci | September 22, 2015

The last reel

Last night Becci and I were in a reflective mood as we enjoyed a stroll around the Independence Monument area in the city centre of Phnom Penh. It is a walk that we first undertook back in December 2007 when we first visited Cambodia (its very weird to read the blog and see the pictures of that trip now). Its a walk we have now done many times since we arrived in July 2011. It may be the final time we do it before we leave in two weeks’ time.


Sunset at Independence Monument

In the years that have passed, we have changed, as has the city that has been our home for the past four years. Its still a wonderful cacophony of sights, smells, noise, laughter, heat, humidity, sunshine, rain, dust, motorbikes, smiling faces and much more. But the city is changing. Fast.

One of our favourite occasional hang-outs is the Skybar on the 23rd floor of the Mekong Tower. From there a remarkable number of construction projects are visible in every direction, each shrouded in the familiar green netting. Last time we went I counted nearly 100 projects underway!


Since we arrived the city has expanded, lakes have been filled in, new roads have been completed, traffic has increased….and the pace of development shows no sights of letting up. On ‘Diamond Island’, the new promised buildings include the below, which bears a remarkable similarity to a certain French capital!


Building has now started on this….

On Sunday evening, we travelled to the airport to say goodbye to our friend Peter Brooks following his short visit here to see the church, and discovered that the new airport terminal, whose construction had not started a year ago, was now open.


It is up that escalator that we shall wave goodbye very soon.

The change is much more than simply buildings however. Culture is also shifting. iPhones have started popping up left and right and the obsession with Facebook and other social media amongst the new generation is startling. The only surprise about the inevitable arrival of international shops and brands is that McDonalds and Starbucks have yet to make it. Amongst the most popular current TV programmes is “Cambodian Idol” which followed swiftly on the heels of “The Voice”.


Within a week of our arrival, the first western style cinema opened showing major Hollywood films. We have thoroughly enjoyed being able to watch the latest releases for as little as $2 a head, and are not looking forward to the prices that await us back in the UK.

Its also great to see some quality Cambodian films now being made. Most local films in recent years have narrowly focused on horror, slapstick or a combination of the two. It was therefore wonderful to go and watch a film called “The last reel” last week, which offered a very true insight into modern day Phnom Penh whilst showing a poignant glimpse back to the horrors that Cambodians encountered forty years ago under the Khmer Rouge. I would wholeheartedly recommend this film to anyone!

All of these changes however, pale into insignificance for us, when we consider the work that God is doing in this country. On Saturday we joined 4000 Christians from across Cambodia at the “Asian Christian Conference”. Worshipping and singing new songs, written by Cambodians for Cambodians, alongside thousands of young people and seeing their passion for Jesus will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of my time here. So exciting for the future!


We are now entering the “last reel” of our time here. Its weird, emotional and unsettling, but also very exciting. We came to help build the church and train local leaders, which we have done as best we can by the grace of God. It has been an honour. The work now passes over to them. I can’t wait to see what comes next….


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