After the mind-blowingly tragic images of the last post, depicting the depths of depravity that mankind can inflict on itself, I moved on to the capitals centre and lighter subject matter….
Phnom Penh is a surprising city in many ways. It is significantly more cosmopolitan than most other places visited so far with a plethora of boutique style hotels, food options ranging from local Khmer street to up market fine dining. It does not seem to matter which country or city you visit you always witness the dichotomy of life with the mix of poor and affluent areas and people; together with the multitude of bicycle rickshaws and Tuk tuks etc I have just seen what must be the 20th Range Rover…. Many attractions are located centrally so easy to walk to as long as you are happy to dodge the inevitable traffic. Markets appear everywhere, mostly food but some where you can buy virtually anything.
Wat Phnom Is set on top of a 27m-high tree-covered knoll, and is on the only ‘hill’ in town. According to legend, the first pagoda on this site was erected in 1373 to house four statues of Buddha deposited here by the waters of the Mekong River and discovered by Lady Penh. Hence the city name Phnom Penh or ‘hill of Penh’.”
The Royal Palace: With its classic Khmer roofs and ornate gilding, the Royal Palace dominates the diminutive skyline of Phnom Penh. It’s a striking structure near the riverfront, bearing a remarkable likeness to its counterpart in Bangkok. Being the official residence of King Sihamoni, parts of the massive palace compound are closed to the public. It is totally surrounded by high stone walls and features the Silver Pagoda, so called because it’s floor is covered with 500 tonnes of gleaming silver.
Am writing this now whilst 200km into a 320km bus ride between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. A six hour journey across Cambodian countryside and various small towns. I was planning to take a boat rather than bus but sometimes during the dry season the route by boat is no longer possible due to low water levels. However the bus is pleasant enough and unbelievably has had WiFi more or less all the way hence I should be able to post this soon… how is it that in many areas of so called 1st World England this sort of reliable coverage can only be dreamt of???
Given the weather in the UK and around the World recently perhaps we should have similar building practices to Cambodia…the houses in the following photos are typical of many built any where near water…these must be miles away from the nearest river but due to the flatness of the topography they are still routinely built on stilts…
Approaching Siem Reap soon and the next chapter….Angkor which promises to be an amazing sight…not sure how I am going to fit it into a day but will certainly try…. For a better insight into this UNESCO World heritage centre, an enormous Hindu temple collection, visit https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/668/