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Cambodia: Phnom Penh, the Capital City

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Vietnam-Cambodia Tour Itinerary

We arrived in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia at 6am, as expected. We got off at the same bus station as before. Before heading to Velkommen Guesthouse, we sat by Sisoquath Quay to take a photo of the sunrise.

Sunrise at Sisoquath Quay
We didn't take a tuktuk but just walked to our guest house. I had the presence of mind to print out maps of all the cities we would visit so it was really easy to find our guest house which was about 15 mins walk from the bus terminal.

Of course, the guest house was closed that early in the morning. I forgot to let them know we would be arriving early. But anyway, a guy answered the door and let us in. We waited for a while until some staff arrived and she allowed us to leave our things because our room was still occupied. That was fine with us and we set out again to explore the city.

Independence Monument
We started at the southernmost point of interest, the Independence Monument. And yes, we walked all the way there. It was a good thing that it was so early because it wasn't hot yet.

Vietnamese-Cambodian Friendship Monument
After that, we just followed the landmarks on my map, so we saw the Vietnamese-Cambodian Friendship Monument, the visually appealing Supreme Court, the Golden Hamsa, and Wat Botum.

Wat Botum

"Under the radiant sun the Hamsa adorns himself... From afar he is coming to stay near us... My dear, he is now near us, the royal bird..."

In Wat Botum, I saw a stupa for the first time and didn't know what it was. But after a while, I realized it was similar to our own gravestones, albeit a more showy one.

As we neared the Royal Palace, I saw that we were just in time because they just opened the gates to let tourists in. The entrance to the Royal Palace costs $6 each but I had to pay an additional 10 real because short skirts weren't allowed inside, so they gave me orange pants.

The Royal Palace
We also opted to get a tour guide to show us around the Palace. Our guide told us that the King was at home that day, and pointed to the blue flag that was raised, indicating that the King was indeed, home. The guide told us that the King was in his 60s but still a bachelor and that he studied ballet in Paris. Er, ok.

Then we entered the throne room. Apparently, Cambodian Kings sat on the throne only once in their lives then never again: during their coronation.

Various structures surrounded the throne roon. There was the dance hall, the dining hall, a room that housed musical instruments, and a museum.

All the colors of the rainbow...

Inside the museum, I learned that all the staff of the Palace, including the King, wore a specific color of dress depending on what day of the week it was. The museum also contained the royal wedding garments and would be worn by the King, if he ever decided to get married, that is.

The Silver Pagoda

Next, we visited the Silver Pagoda, so named because of the tiles made of pure silver that covered its floors. According to our guide, devout Buddhists called it the Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha because its prized possession was a Buddha carved from an emerald.

The Silver Pagoda housed over a thousand Buddhas, some gifts from France. A lot of these Buddhas were made of gold. Every 8th day, the King went to the Pagoda to worship and during this time, the Royal Palace was closed for the day.

Then lastly, we visited the Elephant Stable although there weren't any real elephants, just a statue of a white one.

White Elephant

When we finished the tour, all that walking since 6am was killing my feet and we were already hungry. A tuktuk driver spotted us coming out from the Royal Palace and offered us tours to the Killing Fields and the Genocide museum for $18.

This is Shiva.. or Vishnu.. I forgot. Lol.

We accepted although I later found out we could have had a better bargain if we got the tour from our guest house, instead. Oh well. But on the bright side, the tuktuk driver brought us to a nearby restaurant were the food was excellent and also waited for us to finish eating.

I'll talk about the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum in the next post.


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