Pondering Upon Phnom Penh
Just before entering the Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia from Thailand a year and a half ago, I acquired a food-borne stomach ailment. Because this sickness didn’t go away during my time in this fascinating little land, I wasn’t in the mood to share too many experiences.
I’m currently going through a photo overhaul. That means I’m studying the vast amount of pictures I’ve taken over the last two years.
The photos are sorted alphabetically by country. I’m still on C for Cambodia. While checking out some of these pictures, I started pondering upon the week and a half that I spent in the capital jewel city of Phnom Penh.
Despite feeling tortured by hardly having the ability to enjoy the delectable looking food that I couldn’t help noticing in every direction I looked, I tried not to let that get me down. I still managed to wander around the city daily and witness its wonder. Here are some things I saw and some people I came across:
Feel free to click on the photos for a larger view and manual slideshow. ENJOY!
This is the courtyard from Phnom Penh’s National Museum. It’s one of the nicest courtyards I’ve ever visited. What I like most about it is the Southeast Asian style of architecture, mainly the very steep roofs.
I remember being blown away by this rustic building in a wat complex that I walked around in. Just like in the Thai language, wat in Khmer (Cambodian) means temple. I’ve visited a fair amount of architectural wonders in the world and have never seen anything that looks remotely like this piece.
I have no idea why there’s a garden clock in front of Wat Phnomh. But I’ve never seen one anywhere. This makes it a unique form of art. Even though it’s tough to make out in this photo, the clock tells the correct time.
This is Wat Phnom up close. The temple itself is unique and a wonderful feast for the eyes. But what is striking about this photo is the top left cloud form. For me, it resembles the lower half of the Indian subcontinent, where I happened to be drifting in both before, and after the time in Thailand and Cambodia.
This is from the Olympic Stadium where I happened to be walking around for no reason. Considering we have pig roasts in the United States, you wouldn’t think this to be shocking. Still, I found it to be. The man who was selling it or getting ready to bring it to a feast, I don’t know which, had absolutely no qualms about me taking pictures of it. Anyone who’s been to SE Asia knows that they like their pork.
A Cyclo is a three-wheeled bicycle used for transportation in Phnom Penh. It’s very slow but can weave in and out of traffic well. It holds up to three passengers. I thought: WOW! Pedaling that thing all day is a great way to stay in shape. The man is ultra thin, he must burn calories non stop. But he earns an incredibly meager living and the exhaust fumes that he breathes in can’t be good for his health.
This man makes very little money collecting garbage. Because of having stomach issues, I was extra mindful of consuming water. I was polishing off four to five liters a day. Instead of throwing the plastic bottles away, I carried them around until I ran into someone like him. It often didn’t take long. These people were always happy that to receive the bottles. This guy was glad to pose for me. I thought: Because this man is doing something good for the environment he deserves to earn a more livable wage.
Hiring a moto driver is one of the best ways to get around Phnom Penh. I’d gotten over my fear of hopping on the back of these motorcycle taxis in Bangkok just a couple of weeks prior. After paying this modest man $1 for dropping me at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, he happily posed.
Tuks Tuks or motorcylce rickshaws in Phnom Penh tend to cost about double what the motos cost. This man who’s name is Yoen, charged me $2 for a ride similar to what the above moto man charged me. Moto rickshaws are for when you’re not in the mood for the adrenalin rush of sitting on the back of a motorcycle weaving through busy streets. Yoen is an honest and helpful driver who speaks fluent English. He often hangs out outside of the Royal Palace hoping for a fare. He’s an encyclopedia of information about Phnom Penh. I highly recommend him.
This was the view from my hotel room. During the monsoon it rains for a while almost every afternoon. I’d never seen rain falling like this. It helped to understand why my next destination in Cambodia proved to be a floating city.
For just $12 a night I managed this room with wifi, private bath with hot water shower, a mini-fridge and a TV with cable. I hardly watch TV, but when in a new country I sometimes like to glance at it and try to get a small glimpse of the culture and language.
Phnom Penh is a very affordable and fascinating city that I wholeheartedly recommend visiting.