Back in 1998, author Amit Gilboa wrote a shocking memoir entitled Off the Rails in Phnom Penh: Into the Dark Heart of Guns, Girls, and Ganja. It graphically details the sex and drug fuelled exploits of the city’s expat residents while simultaneously painting a picture of the intense political unrest during that turbulent time. Reading this classic piece of gonzo journalism today is startling, as Phnom Penh in 2019 – now full of high-rise buildings, upscale shops and restaurants, cultural attractions and glamorous hotels – would be unrecognisable to the depraved characters depicted in Gilboa’s book. Not surprisingly, the city’s modern municipal makeover has attracted an influx of both tourists and investors.
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