As you travel north towards the Chroy Chung Va (Japanese) Bridge, the city becomes less attractive, albeit interesting for its history. The bridge, spanning the Tonle Sap, was blown up in 1973 either by (depending on who you believe) Lon Nol forces attempting to hold off the Khmer Rouge from entering the city, or by the advancing Khmer Rouge forces. Known from then on as spean bak, “broken bridge”, it is now often referred to as chuowa chuoul hauwy, “not broken anymore”. To others it is the “Japanese Bridge”, as it was rebuilt with funds from Japan in 1993.
The traffic island at the northern end of Monivong Boulevard, just before the bridge, contains the curious Tied Gun Monument. In 1999, the government, concerned about the proliferation of firearms, seized all the guns it could lay its hands on and, amid great political fanfare, had them crushed. The remains were melted down and a sculpture of a revolver with a knot tied in its barrel was cast. However, cynics say that only the broken guns were smashed and that the good ones were handed out to the police and military.