Friday, November 8, 2013

Soggy in Phnom Penh

Our first full day in Phenom Penh began with a lovely breakfast at our hotel underneath the palm trees. After that we decided to walk to a couple of temples along or near the waterfront. The walk started off well enough but then the rains came - slowly at first and then they were a full tropical deluge. By the time we were able to procure a couple of umbrellas we were drenched from socks to scarves. The thing is though, once you are that wet you can't get wetter so we relished in it and enjoyed splashing though the puddles in our sopping shoes and smiling and declining the offered from tuk tuk drivers to take us dryly to our destination.

Our first stop was Wat Ounalom, which is the head of Buddhism in Cambodia. It is more that one building but a complex of temples and graves and shrines. One such shrine, guarded by an old man in sunglasses and chain smoking cigarettes, contains an alleged hair from the Buddha's eyebrow. The sunglasses man beckoned us and unlocked the shrine and had us sit on the mat in front of the Buddha while he lit incense and candles and then mixed scented oil in a bowl and used some sticks to flick the oil on us while he chanted (prayers or blessings I assumed, but for all I know if could have been a curse). No sign of the eyebrow, but apparently it is in there.

After that wat we walked further north to Wat Phnom, which is a temple atop a hill. We climbed up the stairs which were pouring with water and spent some time inside, on the floor, admiring the gilded Buddhas and drying out.

The rain began to let up slightly as we walked back south to the Central Market (the Psar Thmei), a large, domes, Art Deco building which houses a large market. The inside sells mostly jewelry, clothing, electronics, and other goods, while around the market are the food stalls selling fresh produce and vegetables, eggs, fish and seafood, and meats - so many means being carved up, from chickens and teeny tiny birds to frogs, grubs, and who knows what else. It was smelly and colourful and fantastic. 

We sat at one of the counters in the food selling area and ordered a couple of soups (mine without meat). They were very tasty and with some added spicy chillis, they were delicious (and about $1.25 each). After that we bought some tasty pastries and mangosteens and a small white coconut and walked back to our hotel, now in the sunshine.

After a bit of a rest we walked back down to the waterfront and had a tasty dinner of Thai food with a fellow we ran into who had been on our boat in Vietnam (an Australian fellow who was a jackaroo turned hot air balloonist - there are a couple of careers I never considered).

It was a satisfyingly full day and we slept soundly.

1 comment:

Barry Curts said...

HI Love the colorful pictures especially the ones with you in them. Keep your ears on the news. Stay safe. PAT