There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.
– Robert Louis Stevenson
We have just arrives in Siem Reap, so I will update you all on yesterday – our last (my main) day in Cambodia’s capital.
We intended on an early start, but my painkillers have a bit of a kick and made me rather sleepy, so the 7am alarms were ignored and we emerged for breakfast at around 10 instead.
First Stop: Phnom Penh Central Market.
You can buy literally anything there. Hats made from coke cans? Check. Puppets made of silk scarves? Check. Toasted crickets on a stick? Check. Chanel purse? Well of course. Naturally, I bought an anklet. Sam bought a vest. We are the most exciting people ever.
Next Up: The Royal Palace.
Word of advice: you need to be covered up. Shorts/skirt past your knees and a t-shirt with sleeves. They like women to have tops down to the elbow, but they let me in without as I couldn’t get a shirt over my cast! Sam had to buy a t-shirt… it was tight (like three sizes too small tight – all the people out here are super skinny!) The palace is open daily from 8-11am and 2-5pm. The bit in the middle is a typical Cambodian lunch hour. Everything in Phnom Penh seems to shut for at least 3 hours over midday. Even the hospital.
The palace is pretty beautiful, but to me looked a bit like a film set. Many of the buildings were made of concrete, we couldn’t find out if this was due to rebuilding after the Khmer Rouge, or if it was just the preferred style. The silver pagoda, which we were told is ‘must see’ was somewhat of a let-down to me. The floor is made of solid silver tiles, all intricately carved. But most of it is covered in rugs. There are some stunning statues however, including a solid jade Buddha and a life sized standing Buddha decorated with over 10,000 diamonds, including a 25 carat diamond in its headdress.
Much of the palace was closed to the public when we went due in part to repair works, but also because of the elections. About 2 thirds of the compound which is normally open to the public were out of bounds due to the king being in residence over election period.
The palace is definitely worth a visit, but it’s a strange palace in my eyes. And I have visited a lot of palaces and historical houses!!
Final Stop: The Russian market.
The Russian Market in Phnom Penh was pretty much the same as the central market, only less well organised, hotter, and more chaotic. My advice on this: go to the central market, it sells the same things, and the whole market won’t make you want to pass out from the heat and smell.
Due to the hospital trip, we didn’t get to s-21 (the prison) or the museums, or the killing fields, but that just means we have to come back.
Where would you recommend to visit in Cambodia? Are the places we missed worth planning another trip around?