The Grand Palace, well nearly and buying short longs! – Day 171 – 8 July

We got up not too late and popped downstairs for the basic free offering that was to be breakfast, it was okay but only just. We then strode forth for our day of Phnom Penh sightseeing, it was a really nice stroll and the weather was good too but again the moto riders kept bugging us keen to pick up a fare or two.

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Top attractions

It did not take us long though before we reached the Grand Palace temple complex and to get there we passed by some other impressive looking buildings as well. The complex is made up of a good number of buildings so we decided to leave the renowned Silver Pagoda until the last. After yesterday’s rain today was shaping up to be a hot and blue skied day. So being hot and the fact that getting there had warmed our heels somewhat our pace now slowed to a crawl as we walked round the complex’s other wats and buildings. These were still quite something to see and some of the statues, frescoes and ornate masks were really very interesting and beautiful works of art. The gardens too that held everything together were also very immaculately manicured but as it was getting on we thought we had better go to the Silver Pagoda. We had just reached the building when a bodyguard came over and told us the place was shutting so we had to leave! Not sure if we were suffering from operator error here but we had actually managed to missed the silver tiles in the Silver Pagoda! Nothing had seemed to be very well signposted if you know what I mean – that’s my excuse at least for us missing the star attraction! We were not happy chappies after this but it was far too hot to get riled so we left the place in our most huffy ‘huffs’  and went to get a drink each to cool and console ourselves.

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View of the Palace Grounds through the undergrowth

Once hydrated we then went round the corner to the National Museum. This is another really good looking terracotta red building with a huge elephant (statue) stood outside (so you cannot miss it … lol!) and although we could not really understand a lot of the signs that were placed alongside the exhibits you could not help but admire the craft and workmanship of the Khmer artefacts themselves. The museum’s rectangular building created a courtyard which had really nice gardens and ponds. Photographing the exhibits inside the buildings was not allowed but in the courtyard you could take photos and some of the exhibits just wondered into shot, sort of like stone photo-bombers! Oh dear!

From here we had planned to go to Wat Phnom but our way took us past Wat Ounalom so we went in to have a look. Here there was a sign which informed us that donations were gladly received – above a strongbox of course – but I would have been far more likely to part with my ‘hard earned’ cash had the Buddhist monk ‘on duty’ as it were, not been playing upon his iPad. Maybe it was just a meditation app he was tapping away at but somehow the whole thing did not sit right with me. I still was not quite affronted enough not to take photos and though I did not capture the guard-monk I managed to take a few snaps showing the beauty of the carvings both on wood and stone that the place held.

So after this detour we eventually reached Wat Phnom but here the monks were taking things much more seriously and carrying out ceremonial duties. These duties involved much chanting and the ringing of bells as well as some of us tourists there were quite a few locals too waving incense sticks and some appeared to have bought birds from nearby sellers which were then released by the monks. By the side of the Wat there also appeared to be some sort of Cambodian dalek and as most things here this was very colourfully decorated!

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Exterminate! (in Khymer)

By this time we were getting bit weary so made our return trip back to our hotel but Liz spotted a hairdresser and I was in having my hair length reduced before I could say ‘hang on is this a pair of scissors I see before me’ (Macbeth … almost). It was one of those that Liz still did not seem entirely happy with afterwards perhaps it was a bit too short but I was happy enough so back to our room to grab an hour’s kip before returning out into the night air.

After a bit of a wander we ended up at the night market. This was quite an entertaining place, partly for the people watching opportunities but also because it had a stage on which child dance troops would perform traditional dances in traditional garb. Liz decided she wanted to take the entertainment on to the stalls and did a bit of haggling over a pair of leggings which I could not tell whether they were long shorts or short ‘longs’, either way they were nice pair of ’?’ and quite reasonably priced too.

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Kids entertaining at the Night Market

We strolled back along the riverside before stopping at an Indian restaurant and had a very nice meal and a couple of beers before heading back. It was quite funny watching the small ‘gangs’ of local children selling their woven bracelets and trinkets and more than a couple of times we had to shoo them away, they were like little business men and women but ones who like to play tag as they sold their wares! Before we headed off to bed we booked a driver for tomorrow to take us to Tuol Sleng jail and the killing fields that we had heard and read so much about so we shall see what tomorrow has to bring.

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