Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh is a chaotic yet beautiful, corrupted yet friendly city. Cambodia is a loaded country--the people have been through a lot, so you feel sorry for them, but at the same time, you feel frustrated that their leaders can't just shape up and get the country in order. In Phnom Penh, I was charmed by the temples, the waterfront, the sidewalk crepe stands, but turned off by the security guards asking for money and sleeping on the job. 

At one point we tried to visit a temple and the security guard on duty informed us there was an admission fee. 

"Where are the tickets?", we asked. 

"No tickets," he replied. 

"Where is the sign stating the cost of the entrance fee?" 

"No sign," he answered. 

"Where does the money go." 

"My family," he said. 

The sad thing is that I'm sure his family needs the help and it irks me that there's not a proper system in place where even someone with an actual, steady job needs to find creative ways to make ends meet for his family. 

The traffic in Phnom Penh is insane and mesmerizing and the people are resourceful, resilient, and optimistic. At one point, we found ourselves resting at a bus stop in the middle of the city and we witnessed young man after young man arriving on scooters to pick up various boxes and goods that had been dropped off at the bus station. I have no idea what the goods being delivered were as there was no real organized system, but my hunch tells me they were various supplies needed for whatever business their family member or friend was running to make ends meet for their individual situation. One guy in particular rode up and lined up two microwave-size boxes on the back of his scooter with nothing to tie them down. I thought to myself "there's no room for him to fit on the scooter now to drive the thing!". Then I saw him throw one more large box in the front section of the scooter where his feet are supposed go like it was nothing. He then squeezed himself into the inches of space left for his body, dangled his legs to the side of the box in front of him, and sped off into the traffic you see pictured below. This whole loading process took about 30 seconds. Brad and I sat there mesmerized, like we were watching a Rube Goldberg machine. 

Below are some pictures I captured in and around the city of Phnom Penh, including our visit to the Royal Palace. 

{Rush hour}

{Overlooking the main square, with the Royal Palace to the right and the merging of the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers to the left.}

{One of our favorite discoveries was the Wat Prayuvong temple, which was nestled right in the middle of a local neighborhood. The whole neighborhood was staring at us as we would our way through their streets, in front of their houses and shops. Then we walked inside this--the brightest, most colorful building I've been inside of.}

{Wat Langka}

{Phnom Penh's Central Market}

{Delicious crepes--we can thank French colonialism for this one!}

{Our crazy moto ride in the rain. Brad did a great job navigating all the traffic and bumpy roads!}

{Post rain-soaked moto ride}

1 comment:

Andiepants said...

Your pictures are beautiful and that traffic looks insane! I'll be experiencing the same next week during my trip to Peru.
Despite the traffic, hustle, and bustle, the city looks very picturesque and so colorful! How did you manage to take such detailed photos? Did you take your camera? DSLR? or did you just use your phone?
Love the pics!

Andie's Traveling Pants