The following day I visited historical sites in the city. First stop was the Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda. The Silver Pagoda compound was the only one open to the public during my visit and the Royal Palace is close because the Father King's body lie in state that will last for three months before his body will be cremated. The entrance fee remains at USD3 even though the palace is close.
The Silver Pagoda houses the Emerald Buddha that sits high on the dais. Aside from the emerald Buddha, there are gold, bronze, and silver Buddha's all in varying sizes are also contained at this silver tiled flooring which the structure named after. The Silver Pagoda appears to be a copycat of the Emerald Buddha Pagoda in Bangkok's Royal Palace, who copied whom that I want to know. At the same compound of the Silver Pagoda are shrines of King Norodom equestrian statue, a pavilion that is home to a huge footprint of the Buddha, the shrine of King An Dong, a pavilion of celebrations held by the royal family, a shrine dedicated to the daughter of Prince Sihanouk. At the back of the Silver Pagoda has a miniature Angkor Wat. Outside of the Silver Pagoda is an open field fronting the Royal Palace. There were a lot of locals in their white and black dress paying homage to the dead King Father. They were writing condolences and offering flowers and candles at the palace wall. A big screen was installed at the Ceremonial Hall facing the open field showing the going-on inside the palace. I took lunch at the nearby hotel. I ordered the amok trei, cambodia's traditional dish, fried rice and fresh young coconut.
|The Silver Pagoda|
|The Silver Pagoda grounds|
|Shrine of King Norodom equestrian statue|
|The locals paying homage to the Father King|
After lunch I went to the National Museum situated north of the Royal Palace, entrance fee is USD5. The building is a traditional khmer architecture built between 1917 and 1924. The floor layout has courtyards all of which are facing onto a garden. The museum contains sculptures, ceramics, and bronzes of pre and post Angkorian period. Many of the Buddha's sculptures were rescued from the Angkor Wat. So if you already been to the temples of Angkor in Siem Reap, it is best to visit the museum to see all the artifacts for best real appreciation of the temples. Taking photos inside the museum galleries is prohibited but are allowed at the courtyard grounds.
|Young Monks roaming at the Museum garden|
|A street scene just outside the Museum|
My last stop for the day was a visit to Central Market. Whenever I visit an asian city I always make a point to see its central market because aside from the local feel, most often it is a historic structure with a distinct design, and Phnom Penh has one. The central market is a unique art deco version of a traditional market. It is a cross shaped structure that has a soaring dome at the center. I think the building is undergoing renovation because most of the stalls were line outside and the facade has been newly painted in bright yellow and white colors. I managed only to peeked inside just at the central dome where I spotted a tall clock tower right in the center. It's a bit dark inside maybe because it was late in the afternoon already and the building has minimal lighting. The market inside near the entrance were filled with shops selling gold and silver jewelry, antique coins, fake branded watches. Outside around the compound are stalls selling flowers, household items, and souvenir items for tourists.
I ended the day at the Central Market tour and in the evening I chilled out at one of the bars along the riverfront.
The following morning I check out the city's important landmark, Wat Phnom located at Norodom Blvd. Wat Phnom is seated on top of a small hill that can be access by a broad staircase flanked by naga heads, guardians, and lion-like figures. The pagoda has a central altar with a large bronze seated Buddha and surrounded by other smaller statues, flowers and candles. The interior walls were covered with murals depicting stories from Reamker, the Khmer version of the Ramayana. Within the compound is the gray painted stupa contained the King Ponhea Vat's remains. At another corner is a small shrine dedicated to Daun Penh whom the city's name was derived. I can say that Wat Phnom is just a typical southeast asian wat with a bell-shaped chedi and naga heads decorating the corners of the roof. There are a lot of local vendors at the entrance of the stair nagging visitors selling drinks and birds in cages. I left the place soon as I'm done as it was also my last day in Phnom Penh.
|The stair leading up to the Pagoda|
|Local in pray|
|Local vendors at the vicinity|
My trip to Phnom Penh was a good opportunity for me to really appreciate the country and its people. I would say that though the city's is lag behind by other cities of Asean but it has it's own charm that truly unique and worth visiting. I would be happy to be back to be more acquainted and be charmed again.