November 11th, 2015 – by: Jollyjetsetter
The Royal Palace (Phnom Penh; Cambodia)
Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital city, is clearly a place with a troubled past with a present-day situation which acts as a reminder of both the suffering and the progress made since those sour times. As the final piece of the jigsaw in this 2-nation trip, expectations were perhaps riding on the back of the standard-setting elements of what had come before it, but thankfully, Phnom Penh seemed to slot in effortlessly with the whole run of events. Full marks must surely go to the Frangipani living arts and spa hotel for being a well-located (near the Russian market), well-equipped (ground floor and rooftop pools) and well-serving hotel (see morning breakfast juice for proof) which was a sound choice of lodgings in a city with no shortage of options.
More appealing building styles (Phnom Penh; Cambodia)
Onto the day of tourist sights, and a tuktuk rental is all you will more than likely need in a city where getting from A to B is probably rendered easier if your vehicle is more compact (!) First up was the Royal Palace, and this is where the entire day both peaked (too early!) and provided the visuals for one of Cambodia's most majestic and arresting sights. Walk through the entire complex that is the Royal Palace, and it soon becomes apparent that this is Phnom Penh's crowning glory and a national treasure to be treasured as much as its allure necessitates. Onto Wat Phrom, and there is more evidence of the kind of substance which makes city tours worthwhile, as is the city's National Museum, which contains therein a fair few examples of the kind of historical artefacts which were part of the nation's past and growth.
Wish all entrances were like this! (Phnom Penh; Cambodia)
The Independence monument is another Phnom Penh landmark which is worth a look-in, and the nearby new central market and its uniquely-shaped exterior is an experience not to be missed, especially if, like myself, you prefer to think that each separate shopping experience differs from any other. On a similar-sized, but even lower budget scale, the Russian Market is more of a ramshackle thrown-together affair, but bargains abound, and in amongst the whole affair, you are bound to come away with goods a-plenty if you linger long enough to seek out the goods which stand out from the rest of the pack. A couple of times a week, Phnom Penh also plays host to a night market, located by the riverside along a street lined with appealing eateries and well-fitted hotels.
Independence monument (Phnom Penh; Cambodia)
Despite the compact nature of the night market, the live music on site is likely to provide a few diversions, and the overall buzz of the area cannot be denied. On a far more sombre scale than all of the above, Phnom Penh is the location of two pieces of preserved (grim) history which are symbolic at best, and downright chilling at worst. The Tuol Sleng genocide museum is the more central of the two, and a visit to these premises will hit home the sheer horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime and the atrocities committed in that dark and deathly period when thousands of innocent Cambodians perished under a deranged and controlling regime. Meeting one of the two sole survivors of that era in which people were rounded up and mutilated only served to drive home the notion that the thin line between fate and fortune is a scary reflection upon the fragility of existence and that, furthermore, making the most of one's time on earth really is the only valid way to proceed. Further afield lie the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, and this is further evidence, if you can bear it, of a regime so brutal and merciless that the only way for it to be dealt with is for the present-day judiciary system to trial the perpetrators, and for the sheer intensity of the horrors involved to remain as a timely reminder of what needs to be strictly avoided on any future occasion. In modern-day Cambodia, thankfully, the mood is generally positive, and progress is being made in important realms, and if you are able to experience a bit part in this growth, even from a purely observer's point of view like mine was, you too might well conclude that out of the mire comes substance of genuine positive worth.