Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Phnom Penh

The few days we spent in the capital of Cambodia were restful as we'd already visited the horrific S21 and killing fields.

We managed to walk around the centre of the city one day - taking in a lot from the outside - we saw the Independence monument, the riverside area (very touristy!), the Central Market (more like a department store on the inside!) and the Royal Palace from the outside - apparently access to the buildings is limited as its still the royal residence.

Independence monument - still with the trappings of Independence Day celebrations!

Central Market from the outside

And the inside

Some of the Royal Palace buildings

We were staying at a great little hostel called Me Mates Villa. We'd stayed there the previous time we were in Phnom Penh (all 8 hours or so!) and Charlie remembered me and greeted me like a long lost friend!

We decided to splash our cash on some cocktails and a nice meal - so we headed to the Foreign Correspondents Club for happy hour margaritas and then to Friends International restaurant.

The restaurant came highly recommended to me by Jo Lima and is a charity that trains street kids in hospitality for hotels & restaurants. The food is Cambodian/Asian fusion - so some traditional dishes like stir fried red ants and some Asian twists on things like ceviche! All in all very good and well worth the splurge! The gift shop next door also got a visit ;)

The following day Kitty and I made an excursion one block to the National Museum. The building itself is impressive - but there was little information about it in the Museum, I think it was built in 1920 and lots of foreign governments seem to be sponsoring the renovation of different bits of it...

The collections inside include a lot of stone statues from various temples - including Buddhas and Vishnu's from Angkor Wat. There was a random collection of farm implements and some pottery also.

Garuda - half bird, half lion statue

I thought the most interesting thing was the display on the bronze drums. Apparently Cambodia was ahead of the curve in the Bronze Age and these massive drums were prized possessions buried with their high status owners.

When the locals discovered these graves in the last 10-15 years they saw a quick buck to be made and looted to sell the drums for scrap metal and as people became aware of what they were, to antique dealers.

What is interesting is how officals reacted - they sent archeologists in - presumably with the help of the German government which was sponsoring this display - and educated the locals on what they found, it's historical importance and even got the locals involved by working with them on the dig.

One caption describes how a local man saw the destruction his looting had done to the grave when working with the archeologists. Not a perfect solution - but here I think education helped to limit the damage to the site and they still managed to find some well preserved graves and 'finds'.

No comments:

Post a Comment