Pnom Penh and
One of the most interesting things that occurred when we
were visiting Cambodia was the answer to the question we posed to our
cab driver/guide. As we were only going to be in Pnom Penh for a few
days we asked him what he thought were the most important sites we
should visit. At the very top of his list was the genocide museum.
Considering that between 1/5 and 1/4 of the population was lost during
the Pol Pot civil war I understand his focus. Most families lost members
in this most atrocious period. The country is still under siege from
undiscovered land mines and at least every month there are more
casualties. Many, many people have lost their limbs, their sight or
their lives to these wicked devises.
tower at the Choeung Ek Genocidal Museum. It contains the boney remains
of nearly 10,000 people and it is thought that nearly twice that many
were tortured and executed here. There are many mass graves on this
property with dental, boney and clothing remains that come to the
surface during the rainy season. It's a pretty grim site, but like
Auschwitz or Dachau the Cambodians are determined that this horror and
the people who were lost will not be forgotten.
Traveling back to Phnom Penh took us through a rural
area that was partially flooded and the area where much local produce is
were told by our driver that this area does produce a lot of the food
that eaten in Phnom Penh, however the area is basically a cess-pool and
usually stinks. Fortunately we were riding in an air conditioned car and
were shielded from that disagreeable experience!
The roads around Phnom Penh look just like the photo
below left. There are trucks carrying people and goods. Motorcycles are
used for every way you can imagine, with two or three, or a family or
four or five. The tiniest of children hang on for dear life!
motorbikes can go a long way on very little gas, so you see these "gas
stations" selling fuel in Coke bottles!
Of course traveling by foot is the most common way that
people move about. And carrying big bundles on one's head is quite
common (below right).
hope you're blowing these thumbnails up and even enlarging them to 125%
because getting a gander of what is sold along the road is quite
interesting. Everyone likes to photograph the Buddhist monks and we're
;no exception. It seems that nearly everyone has a little business going
on in front of their house - and most houses are in a state of
looks to us that most people drink bottled water. Of course, we did too.
fruit stands look inviting, but when you're staying at a hotel there's
no need for more food!
national museum was quite interesting as it was one of the few
institutions that was NOT destroyed during the civil war. During that
period hospitals, schools and temples were destroyed in an effort to
turn the country into a nation of peasants working in an agrarian
society where family, wealth and status did not matter. Many of the
treasurers that were held in the museum were taken out and hidden. Some
of those treasurers included religious stone tablets from the Siem Reap
area. Those tablets included stories of the Buddha that were found in
the library of the many temples near Angkor Wat.
beautiful area is the Royal Palace where the king (who is a monk) meets
visiting dignitaries. This area is a highlight of the city of Phnom
Penh. Right next door is the Silver Pagoda. Both complexes were spared
by the Khymer Rouge civil war. The Royal Palace was built in 1919. There
is a tribute to Napoleon on the grounds and a display of royal
memorabilia - similar ;to the royal jewels at the Tower of London.
Photography was not allowed in several of these areas.
is just a shot (right) of the grounds in front of the Silver Pagoda. It
was a quiet shady little area we enjoyed.
enjoyed the elephant garden to the south of the complex as much as the
historic buildings. There were a couple of reasons for this.
reason was this incredible flowering tree that embraced both of these
beautiful figures (right & left). The name of the flower is "Shorea
Robusta Roxb," I think? This tree is only allowed to grow in a temple site. We
found this bloom to be captivating as I've never seen anything like it!
other thing that added to our enjoyment was a Buddhist musical group
that was playing as we sat in the shade and sipped a cold soda! Scott
got this shot of the boy that was part of the group.
to the hotel we captured a couple of street scenes that we thought
represented our visit to Cambodia.
the left is the big shopping center in Phnom Penh. Interesting
architecture we thought.
Cambodia and well as Thailand there is a tradition of working elephants.
We will see that in the bas-reliefs around the temples in Angkor which
date in the 1200s.