Day 4. When I was researching on the places to see on my Indochina trip, Phnom Penh was not exactly included in my itinerary. I heard some bad reviews about it from other travellers. I know I’ve said this about Manila too (which I fully regret now), but I personally don’t like to warn other travellers to skip a certain place or city. Two reasons. First, I don’t think one visit to a place is enough for anyone to judge it in its entirety. Second, wouldn’t it be nice for other people to discover for themselves what a place truly is? I would not want to take that experience away from other travellers. So back to my own story, I was glad I decided to stay one night in Phnom Penh and do some sightseeing in the city before I leave for Siem Reap.
Before anything else, I went and bought tickets bound for Siem Reap using Giant Ibis again. They do have nice and comfortable buses. P.S. I also booked my ticket from Siem Reap to Bangkok since I was already there. The bus bound for Siem Reap only had a trip schedule at 8AM (which was already full) and 12:30PM (only 3 seats remaining). So that left me with 3 or 4 hours of sightseeing the next day.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get up early enough. I went and had my breakfast at the Velkommen’s Guesthouse at 8AM. I was able to leave by 9AM.
The surrounding area of the guesthouse doesn’t differ much from Manila. Just replace tuktuks with tricycles and I already feel at home.
My accommodation is located in the middle of the city center. It is within walking distance to the National Museum and the Royal Palace. With my time constraints, I decided not to go to the Tuol Sleng Museum. It is a place where many people were killed during the onslaught of the Khmer genocide.
I went to the National Museum first. The building has a beautiful design with an obvious inspiration from the Angkor Wat. The museum contains ancient artifacts and different kinds of Hindu-Buddhism inspired statues.
Everything has a text but if you don’t like to read, there’s an audio guide at the entrance which is purchased separately. It’s not allowed to take some pictures but if you can’t live without it, there is a photo permit that you can also purchase for a fee of $1.
There is a beautiful garden in the center of the museum which is very photogenic. Naturally, I spent most of my time there taking selfies and pictures.
I went out of the museum to go to the Royal Palace. On my way, I encountered several Cambodians who knowingly suggested that I was a Filipino and called me Pacquiao (the famous boxer) on multiple occasions. I am, of course, flattered despite the association to the person. When I struck a conversation, they immediately proceeded to advertise their tours and I politely declined.
I entered the Royal Palace and it was nicely maintained. The first building to see inside the Royal Palace is the Throne Hall. It was painted in yellow and white, the predominant colors of the Buddhism and Hinduism religions. Those are the two major religions in Cambodia and they were the inspiration for most of the temples in Angkor.
Another building inside the compound is the Silver Pagoda. It is called Silver Pagoda because it was inlaid with more than 5,000 silver tiles. Yes. I was quite confused and I had to research that (Thanks, Wikipedia!), since only a small portion of that was available for viewing.
On the left side is the Royal Guesthouse, the official residence of the VIPs and visiting leaders from the other countries.
I have been to the Grand Palace in Bangkok and this one doesn’t compare. The good thing is that there are less tourists. So I spent a lot of time taking pictures on the ground. And selfies.
I walked around the Royal Palace grounds and found this huge Stupa dedicated to their King.
I also found a miniature version of the Angkor Wat. Finally, I was able to see the Angkor Wat from above (since I can’t afford the hot-air balloon ride over the temple).
I went back to the guesthouse and arrived at around 11AM. I packed my bags and left for the bus station bound for Siem Reap.