3 Days at Cambodia – Day 1: to Phnom Penh
It has been a while since I write the last post about Yomiuri Land, Tokyo, and uploaded some pics on the Serenity topic. I turned back to daily life busy working on the budget for the next trip. And when I have some days off during Lunar New Year, I chose Cambodia as a new destination, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap particularly.
From Ho Chi Minh City, I went 70km to the border gates of Moc Bai on the Vietnam side, and Bavet on the Cambodia side. Just right after leaving Bavet, you can easily see a lot of casinos there alongside the road. Some people say it isn’t good getting in so I bypassed it and went straight away to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.
Cambodia’s Royal Palace
After taking a snap at the hotel, I went to the Royal Palace, a huge space with many areas and buildings to serve the King and royal family. Especially, it still looked new even started building in 1866.
The Garden of the King
This tree is called Sala in Vietnamese, or you can search for Shorea robusta. A kind of tree imported from India. In Buddhism, they believe it’s a holy tree beside the Bodhi tree. In Cambodia, you can find many of these trees at the pagoda or sacred places. I feel it is a bit weird but when I Google it, it’s quite beautiful while blossoming.
Royal Buildings in Phnom Penh
In the picture is Chanchhaya Pavilion, it’s the place for the King to have a party and for Royal Dancers. This building is constructed in 1913-14.
Besides that, in the area, there are also 8 other buildings for different purposes of use. First, the Throne Hall for meetings. Second, Hor Samran Phirun, the house for resting and waiting. Third, Hor Samrith Phimean currently served as a museum for Royal costumes, weapons, tools, etc. Next, the Napoleon III Pavilion is the only European-style construction in this area. It was initially for use by Empress Eugenie of France, wife of Napoleon III, in 1869. Fifth, Phochani Pavilion originally is a dance theater. There is also a Royal Office placed at the Damnak Chan building. The Khemarin Palace is for residential purposes. And finally, the Villa Kantha Bopha with western style for foreign guests.
There is also a flagstaff in this area. To explain, if the flag is raised means that the King is currently here at the Palace.
Hor Samrith Phimean – The Museum
Inside the museum, visitors can see a wardrobe with different colors and costumes. To explain, how and when to wear those colors costumes are related to an ancient poem:
“Red is for Sunday,
Orange truly looks like a beautiful moon,
Purple is reserved for Tuesday,
Wednesday is the green of the plant,
Thursday is the yellowish-green of the leaves of a banana palm,
Happy Friday is blue and must be tidy,
Saturday is the color of ripe spring according to the ages”.
These are places of worship called ‘Silver Pagoda’ which is next to the Royal Palace. In Cambodian culture, the Sal tree and elephant are important. As Sala connects them with Buddha and elephants are their friends in traditional stories, you can see Cambodian respect for those.
Phnom Penh’s Biggest Casino – Naga World
Leaving the tradition and culture of Cambodian behind, I started the afternoon by having a city tour. Then, I visited one of the biggest casinos in Phnom Penh, the Naga World. In Cambodia, you can easily find many symbols of Naga, a giant snake in the local’s legend. To generally describe, Naga was a king who absorbed the water to make the land Cambodia. Because it’s unable to take pictures in the game area, I just have some pics of the decoration, which is pretty nice.
Those places are all the popular destinations that tourists must visit while coming to Phnom Penh. However, in case you want to check in an uncommon destination, there is Oudong, the old capital of Cambodia. You can take a tuk-tuk to do a day trip from Phnom Penh to Oudong, it’s just 40km away.
In my journey, I followed the common route from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. But first, let’s check out my next post ‘Day 2 at Cambodia – Khmer Food‘, the story of a very interesting place where locals sell and eat insects.
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