We left the UAE very early in the morning and after a flight that stopped in Ho Chi Minh city we arrived in Phnom Penh in the afternoon. We were met by our guide and we set out to see the capitol city. It is a thriving metropolis of 2.5 million souls.
One of our first stops was the only hill in the city. According to lore and legend, the hill was a project sponsored by a rich widow, Madame Penh. The story goes that during a flood of the Mekong she discovered four statues of Buddha and hired many workers to create this hill, or Phnom as a hill is called in the Khmer language. It is the highest point in the city, and as you probably surmised by now, gives the city it’s name.
Many people come here to pray for luck. Good grades, love, business success, anything really.
We are after all tourists, so of course visited the Royal Palace. It reminded me very much of the Royal Palace in Thailand. Except for one thing. The Silver Pagoda. As the story goes, silver was the currency before the French occupied Cambodia. So, the Cambodians melted down their silver and turned it into 5000 tiles that weigh a kilo apiece and covered the floor of this wat with them. Inside is a Buddha made of Baccarat crystal and covered with jewels. In front of that is a Buddha covered in diamonds. An amazing site.
The next day we left for Siem Reap. We drove. We wanted to see some countryside. Yes, we saw plenty of countryside. We passed through many small towns that for the life of me could have been in any third world country. The same stores selling the same stuff. But about halfway, just in time for lunch we came to Spiderville, or Skuon.
Skuon, for some reason, has many varieties of insects for sale, fried and ready to eat. I found grub worms and cockroaches as well as spiders and other creepy creatures prepared for the bravest of the foodies.
A few hours later we were in Siem Reap, the home of more temples than I care to count. That includes the aforementioned Angkor Wat. The next post will cover these temples until you are up to your temples in temples!
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