Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cambodia Day 3 2007-11-08

The VISA issues had me so stressed out but I didn't want to just sit there waiting doing nothing. So I decided to start seeing what I came to see.
I kept waking up and going back to sleep from quite early. With no window in the room, I had no way to judge, so I kept having to turn the tv on for some light with which to see my watch. I eventually just got up once it got closer to 8. I wanted to leave Phnom Penh that day but thought it would be best to stick around until I had things figured out. I made a few phone calls from one of the little Internet Cafe's along the street. That eased my worries a bit. It was still a bit up in the air though. Had to wait.
I decided I would check out the museum. On the way, I felt the need for some breakfast so I stopped at Bojangles Bar & Restaurant. It is a fairly small establishment, but quite nice. It seemed to be busy almost every time I had walked past it. They serve breakfast dishes all day, among other things. I had a Vietnamese Coffee (basically just drip coffee; the other option was Traditional Coffee - Nescafe instant coffee) the veggie breakfast - scrambled eggs, vegetables, a hashbrown (sort of a patty/pancake type thingy) and beans. It cost me $4. At some places you can get fairly cheap meals, but some charge a bit more. I find it a bit odd that a meal can cost the same as a night in a decent but cheap guesthouse or hotel.
Walking anywhere gets very annoying very quickly. I love walking, but I hate being hassled ever two steps. "Hey Lady, you need tuktuk?" "Hey Lady, you need moto?" "Hey lady, wanna buy a book?" "Hey lady, wanna buy a post card?"
If they only asked once, it wouldn't be such a big deal. The fact that they keep asking makes it unbearable. The same person asks the same thing about 5 times (or more). Sometimes they will follow you, asking you. ARGH!!!
The National Museum of Cambodia is made of terracotta and looks so cool. It was interesting but definitely not the best or most interesting museum I've been to. Mostly it contains statue heads, headless statues, and well preserved pieces from Ankor Wat and other temples. There are also a few other things such a some jewelery, bowls and textiles. You are not allowed to take photos in the museum, but if you pay $1 at the gift shop, you get a receipt that allows you to take photos in the little central garden that the museum is built around. The garden is beautiful. I think I might have enjoyed the building and the garden more than the things in the museum. But it is still worth going (it costs around $3? - I forget).
When I had had enough of wandering about the garden taking pictures, I headed for the Royal Palace. I was a bit early, though. And I didn't know where the entrance was. As I was walking along, a young girl ran up to me and said, ''Over there! Open two o'clock." Then she tried to sell me water. I didn't want water as I had a drink in my bag from the museum garden. As I had about 15 minutes before it opened, I just walked along the walls. She followed me and was just talking. She asked about my family, my home, my life. She told me about herself, too. She is 12 years old and has 7 brothers and sisters. The eldest, her 20 year old sister, is the only one that is married. She goes to school in the afternoons. She wishes she was prettier. She has been learning English since she was 5 years old (and was also selling things at that age, too).
Every once in a while, she would run off as foreigners started arriving, hoping that they might buy some cold water from her. Nope. So she'd be back again talking to me. Cute.
Most of the palace compound is closed to the public. Too bad. What I was allowed to see was very nice. The thrown room is so beautiful. You have to remove your shoes before you enter, and you are only allowed in a small area in the back and along the sides up to a certain point. The ceiling is all painted in beautiful pictures. Unfortunately, cameras are not allowed in that building.
Next to the palace compound, but connected, is the Silver Pagoda/Wat Preah Koh/Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha. It is called the Silver Pagoda because the floor is made of silver. It is covered in over 6000 silver tiles, weighing about 1kg each. Most of the floor is covered with carpets so that the visitors don't ruin it, but some is left uncovered to see. Even walking on the carpets on top of the silver tiles was interesting. It was easy to tell that metal tiles were underneath the carpet, as they weren't completely stuck to the floor, and shifted slightly with each step. Inside, there is an emerald buddha, said to be Baccarat crystal, and a life-sized pure gold Buddha covered in diamonds (9584 diamonds, up to 25 carats!) There are all sorts of other interesting, and probably very valuable things within the building. Around the building are numerous plants and trees and some more beautiful structures and buildings.
Walking around the palace and pagoda, I met Nadia. I recognized her. She and her boyfriend were sitting a couple of tables over the previous night at the restaurant I went to. She was also at the museum when I was wandering around there. As we were both walking alone, we ended up talking a bit. She is from Belgium. Her tour group (including her boyfriend) went to the killing fields and other places that day. As she didn't want to see the killing fields, she stayed behind to do some sightseeing on her own (the were also going to see the museum and palace that day). After we finished with the palace etc, I walked with her back to her hotel. She had a little book/magazine for Siem Reap in English, that had a lot of good things in it. Wim, her boyfriend, was back from the trip and was taking a bit of a nap. We sat around for a while talking, and found that we had the same plan for the evening - checking out the sunset from Boeng-kak, the lake. We took a tuktuk and ended up at the restaurant (and hotel) called No Problem. Not bad. The hotels and restaurants along the lake side of the street, are mostly built over the water (you could see the water through the spaces between the boards). The menu looked fairly good. Some interesting things, that seem to be fairly common here were present on the menu. The "Happy Pizza"for one. Well, close to that. They have a fair number of pizzas to choose from. If you want to make it a "Happy Happy Pizza"you have to add $1. For those of you that don't know what I am talking about, it is marijuana. From what I have heard, they actually use it in some traditional Khmer foods.
The sunset wasn't as great as we had all heard it was supposed to be. Well, blame it on the clouds, I suppose. There were some low clouds along the horizon, so the sun sort of disappeared before it set. So not much color, and nothing spectacular to report.

1 comment:

Organic-Muslimah said...

loving the travel diary. Have fun and take lots of pictures.