Postcard from Phnom Penh: Like Bokator, Cambodia’s capital captures its past and present

Heavy metal music is blasting from the speakers in Hall C of the sprawling Chroy Changvar International Convention and Exhibition Centre, huge spotlights trained on bare-bodied fighters dressed in shorts, sashes and headbands striking and kicking on a raised platform.

Kun bokator, an ancient martial art dating back to the Khmer empire, is featuring for the first time at the SEA Games. And its debut captures what Phnom Penh is like for the first-time visitor: the past converging with the present.

For six days at the biennial Games, this quintessentially Cambodian sport with more than 1,000 years of history was showcased to a modern audience.

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