A royal morning in Phnom Penh

According to my guidebook, the Royal Palace is an oasis of order and calm. To me it’s more like a beehive, only nobody knows what they are doing. Tour groups are making their way through the buildings, always stopping right in front of the sights, blocking the view for everybody else. Guides with microphones are keeping their flock together, “Ok, madames et monsieurs, le groupe orange”, Asians are taking funny photos and group shots. I guess I see what the book means though. It is lovely not to be approached by a tuktuk or moto driver every minute.

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At the Royal Palace you can escape the crazy traffic of Phnom Penh. There is a beautiful garden filled with big, elegant buildings, manicured lawns and trimmed hedges. No rubbish in every corner here! It would be good to have a guide here, who can tell you what exactly it is you are looking at, for the map doesn’t help that much. But the entrance fee alone is $10,25, a pricy activity. Today the king is not home, but you still cannot enter his home. You can look around much of the garden though, and peek into the throne hall.

Right next to the palace is the Silver pagoda. It is separated by a wall, but included in your entrance ticket. All around the inside of the wall are colorful murals. There is a miniature version of Angkor Wat. There are several stupa’s and of course there is the Silver pagoda, named because of the silver floor. The floor is covered with mats to protect it, but you’re not coming here for the floor anyway. The big attraction is the Emerald Buddha. The buddha is tiny compared to others I’ve seen, but has a beautiful green glow.

As you walk towards the exit there are a few exhibition buildings. There are some clothes and some howdahs and palanquins. At the very last building you can see a miniature of the procession at the king’s coronation. It was a strange experience. It was lovely to be in such a beautiful place, but most of the time I had no clue what exactly I was looking at. An audio tour would be very helpful here! As soon as I exited I came back into reality though. “Tuktuk?” “Motorbike?” “Miss.” “Lady, lady, lady!” *Sigh*

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