We began our morning in Phnom Penh with a city tour by tuk tuk. We passed street vendors, contemporary buildings, and beautiful French Colonial style buildings. French influence and architecture could be seen and felt throughout the city. They are starting construction on a 132 story building as the city continues to morph into a thriving metropolis. The streets are teeming with bicycles, motorbikes, mopeds, tuk tuks, and cars. The traffic is different than back home - vehicles weave in and out, and turn and merge in ways we never would at home!
We stopped at The Royal Palace. Built in the 19th century, it’s an example of Khmer style and is the official residence of the reigning monarch, King Sihamoni, who happened to be in residence today. The French helped build the palace on the site of a former temple. Within the sprawling complex is the magnificent Silver Pagoda. Most of the silver inlaid tile in it is covered by carpet now to stop the erosion caused by foot traffic of the 2 million tourists every year, but the parts we could see showed great skill and craftsmanship.
The National Museum was our last stop before lunch. It was built in the early 1900’s in the Khmer-French colonial style. It houses an amazing collection of Khmer sculptures and statues dating back hundreds of years bc. Many of the Buddha statues had been cracked into pieces but are now restored. There are also 6 statues that the US returned from museums in the US to Cambodia.
After lunch and a short rest on the boat, we went to the Central Market. It’s chock full of anything and everything. Ted and I bargained (it was expected) and got good deals on some clothes. We had fun there with friends from the boat, bargaining together.