Tomorrow marks the anniversary of when a Vietnamese army toppled the Khmer Rouge regime from the Cambodian capital, so I thought it fitting that today’s post included a photo tour of the temples of Phnom Penh.
This oft-overlooked Southeast Asian hub is extremely rich in both culture and history. SVV and I led a Semester at Sea trip of students to the thriving city, before continuing onto Siem Reap in an itty-bitty plane.
While a larger city—the population numbers upward of 2.2 million people—Phnom Penh was a refreshingly laid-back, not to mention quiet, change following the somewhat frenetic city of Ho Chi Minh, particularly as there is no honking allowed there. It managed to slow down my pulse a bit after riding around Vietnam on the back of a motorbike!
The early morning hours were spent at the Royal Palace, before we continued onto the more sobering remnants of Pol Pot.
This complex, built in the 19th century, is the royal residence of the king of Cambodia and consists of the Silver Pagoda, Moonlight Pavilion, Khmerian Palace, Throne Hall and other buildings. It’s not small either: It spans 1.9 million square feet. Sadly, the king wasn’t home when we dropped in to pay our respects.
The city itself is so plush and green and rife in palm trees and other tropical foliage, yet punctuated by gilded temples and ornate palaces—quite the dichotomy for your usual urban sprawl.
I think we blended in quite seamlessly while cruising around the temples of Phnom Penh—I mean, there was no way to tell we weren’t locals what with our glaring fuchsia bus chauffeuring us around town.
We didn’t have near long enough in Phnom Penh—I didn’t even get to make it to the Russian Market, which was a high priority on my list—but it’s definitely one of those cities you could spend days roaming by foot. I highly suggest not passing it up in your rush to see the temples of Angkor.