Yesterday we wandered round a local temple. Southeast Asia is famous for its Buddhist monks,and most Cambodian boys and young men spend some time living this way. Buddhist monks do not take vows to remain monks forever and the young man who is helping our tour guide spent 10 years as a monk. He exudes an aura of calmness and kindness and you can’t help but be drawn to him.
Women are not ordained, but older women, especially widows, can become nuns. They play an important role in the everyday life of the temple. Nuns shave their heads and eyebrows and generally follow the same rules as monks. They wear white instead of orange.
Both monks and nuns only eat what they are given, and people come into the temple with food for them.
We also visited a the Russian Market, which is a huge square with a roof, full of narrow pathways, selling everything under the sun. You could buy a kitchen sink there if people here had kitchen sinks! Instead there were stacks of brightly coloured plastic bowls. Loads of clothes of course, but entire sections devoted to bike and car parts, ‘garden shed’ tools and spares, kitchen equipment, jewellery, fabric, ribbon, rip-off dvds, toys, souvenirs,etc etc. Oh, and not forgetting a food section selling fresh veg and fruit, fish and meat, which you could smell before you saw it 🙁 It was dingy, hot, and humid, yet Francesca saw a baby asleep on the floor of a stall wearing mittens! Other babies and adults were snoozing in hammocks and 30 minutes in there was all I could stand before I needed to escape to a cafe.
Last night we enjoyed a boat cruise, passed an area where there are some floating homes, and watched the sunset whilst on the river. The food here has been really good – we’ve eaten at different local restaurants each meal, and I’ve enjoyed the most delicate, melt in the mouth fish that I’ve ever had.
Crossing the road is scary, very scary. You literally take baby steps out into the traffic and keep going – slowly, letting the bikes, motorbikes, scooters, cars and tuk tuks weave around you. There are very few traffic lights here, except at very major junctions, so at other junctions everyone just crosses and weaves carefully and does their best to avoid each other. It seems to work but never ceases to amaze me. To drive anything here you need eyes in the back of your head and I’d want them at the sides too! Having said that, I do like riding in a tuk tuk 🙂
I’m also astounded at the electricity cables here and there is still abject poverty, but there is also a huge amount of construction, with big modern buildings going up. Apparently it’s changed a lot in the last couple of years, and is set to change even more in the next 5. P.P is an up and coming place to be.
Today is our last day here in Phnom Penh. We are taking a night bus to Siem Riep and I just hope it’s not like the night bus in Harry Potter – I have a feeling that the journey will be just as crazy though.
I’ve enjoyed it here – it’s leafy, vibrant, colourful and atmospheric. The people are very friendly and nobody hassles you:)
Here are the remainder of my photos taken in Phnom Penh.