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PHNOM PENH CAMBODIA (PHOTOS)

August 30, 2011

PHNOM PENH

                                                in my dream,
                                               Phnom Penh is a city of trees and flowers,
people live in the houses of wood with a garden,
there’s no automobile, or train or plane but elephants.

                                               in my dream,
Phnom Penh is a city of Civilization,

people take care of their neighbors as their own family,
there’s no robbery, or murder or betrayal but love and respect.

in my dream,
Phnom Penh is a city of dreams,
some dream to be a good father or a good mother,
some dream to be a good son or good daughter,

but no one dreams to be The King or Leader,
we live together like brothers, we talk like a man,
we share what we earn, and we always live in peace.

A Poem  by  Santel Phin

Once a rough change for western visitors, Phnom Penh has seriously improved over the past few years. Don’t forget that the country was devastated by the Khmer Rouge. Infrastructure may still lacking in some areas and you’ll find rubbish, potholes and dust in secondary streets as well as beggars and touts. As everywhere in Asia traffic can be risky but it is fairly light compared to busy cities like Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh.

The city is slowly gaining high rise buildings and traffic lights, while still retaining some of the beauty that made it a Paris of the East before 1970. The city’s few French colonial buildings are beautiful: thus a handful of its streetscapes make for a pleasant walk. There are some beautiful wide boulevards, and a parklike riverfront with cafés and restaurants aplenty.

HISTORY OF PHNOM PENH

Phnom Penh did not begin life as a major settlement until after the Angkor period in which Angkor Wat and the surrounding cities rose to prominence. In the middle of the 15th century, then King Ponhea Yat fled a Siamese invasion in Angkor and settled in a part of what is today Phnom Penh, establishing a palace. Buddhist stupas were later added but the city was not made the official capital and seat of the monarchy until 1866 under King Norodom I

Three years earlier, however, Cambodia had come under the protection of France and was soon a fully-fledged member of the French Indochina Empire that also included Vietnam and Laos. Under the full control of Paris, Phnom Penh prospered: previously little more than a village, the city was transformed as the French developed the waterfront.

Despite turmoil in many other parts of the country before and after WWII, Phnom Penh remained under the full control of France until 1953 when King Sihanouk negotiated independence in a wave of Khmer nationalism, returning to Phnom Penh triumphant. It did not take long for things to turn sour though. By the beginning of the 1970s, Phnom Penh was little more than an island of tranquillity in a Cambodian sea of war.

In 1975, the Communist guerrilla Khmer Rouge forces lead by Pol Pot took Phnom Penh to cheering crowds. A few days later they were packed off to the countryside as Phnom Penh was drained of two million inhabitants. For four years, it became the most desolate capital on the planet except for torture centres like S-21 and the few Khmer Rouge elite that lived there

When the Khmer Rouge of Phnom Penh were pushed out in 1979, people slowly returned to a city in utter disrepair. As the full extent of what had happened emerged, the international community began to give aid and help rehabilitate the city as its population slowly increased. It was not until after the Paris Peace Accords in 1991 that full stability was restored to Cambodia.

In 1999, Cambodia joined the regional Southeast Asian grouping ASEAN, which further helped bolster foreign investment into Phnom Penh, beginning a new and positive chapter in the city’s recent history.

A FERRY TAKES US FROM NEAK LOUNG ACROSS THE MEKONG RIVER TO PHNON PENH, CAMBODIA

FOOD VENDOR SELLING SNACKS ON THE FERRY TO PHNOM PENH

ROYAL PALACE PHNON PENH - The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh was constructed over a century ago to serve as the residence of the King of Cambodia, his family and foreign dignitaries, as a venue for the performance of court ceremony and ritual and as a symbol of the Kingdom. It serves to this day as the Cambodian home of King Norodom Sihamoni and former King Norodom Sihanouk. The Royal Palace complex and attached 'Silver Pagoda' compound consist of several buildings, structures and gardens all located within 500x800 meter walled grounds overlooking a riverfront park. Marking the approach to the Palace, the high sculpted wall and golden spired Chanchhaya Pavilion stand distinctively against the riverfront skyline. Inside the Palace grounds, street sounds are silenced by the high walls and the various Royal buildings sit like ornate islands rising from the tranquil, manicured tropical gardens.

TONLE SAP RIVER - PHNOM PNH - FISHING BOAT

NATIONAL MUSEUM PHNOM PENH

PRAYING AND MAKING OFFERINGS AT A TEMPLE ALONG THE ONLE SAO WATERFRONT

HORSAMRAN PHIRUN - Hor Samran Phirun "The pavilion where one sleeps peacefully." Royal rest house and waiting area where the King waits to mount an elephant for Royal processions. Also built to house musical instruments and procession implements. Constructed in 1917. Currently housing a display of gifts from foreign heads of state.SIDE CHAPEL ROYAL PALACE PHNOM PENH

A VIEW OF THE ROALPALACE FROM THE GROUNDS

PHOCHANI PAVILION - Phochani Pavilion An open hall originally constructed as a classical dance theater. The Pavilion is currently used for Royal receptions and meetings. Built in 1912.

DAMNAK CHAN - The Damnak Chan currently houses the administrative offices of the Royal Palace. Original constructed in 1953 for the High Council of the Throne, this building has served several purposes over the years including acting as the Ministry of Culture in the 80s and housing the Supreme National Council of Cambodia from 1991-93. Damnak Chan displays a somewhat uncomfortable mix of Khmer and Western architectural styles, the mix being particularly apparent in this building - sporting a distinctly Khmer-style roof and a Western style in the main body of the building. Closed to the public.SILVER PAGODA - Wat Preah Keo Morokat Wat Preah Keo Morokat is also known as the ‘Silver Pagoda’ the ‘Temple of the Emerald Buddha.’ It is known as the 'Silver Pagoda' for the 5329 silver tiles that cover the floor. Each tile was handcrafted and weighs 1.125kg. The vihear serves less as a functioning temple than a repository for cultural and religious treasures, containing over 1650 precious objects. The primary Buddha, sitting on a gilded dais above all others in the temple, is the Emerald Buddha, reported by different sources to be made of emerald or baccarat crystal. In front of the Emerald Buddha stands Buddha Maitreya (Buddha of the Future,) a 90 kg golden standing Buddha encrusted with 2086 diamonds including a 25 caret diamond in the crown and a 20 caret diamond embedded in the chest. Other objects include a Buddha relic from Sri Lanka in a small gold and silver stupa, a collection of gifts from Queen Kossomak Nearyrith, and contributions and gifts from other nobles and Royals. Ramayana Frescoes The interior of the pagoda compound walls is covered with murals depicting stories from the Reamker, i.e. the Khmer version of the classic Indian epic, the Ramayana. Some sections of the murals are deteriorated and weather damaged. The murals were painted in 1903-1904 by a team of students working under the direction of artist Vichitre Chea and architect Oknha Tep Nimit Thneak. In the 30s the galleries served as ad hoc classrooms for Buddhist monks.

WAT PREAH KEO MOROKAT - SILVER PAGODA

TOP OF THE SILVER PAGODA (DETAIL)

RAMAYANA FRESCOES - Ramayana Frescoes The interior of the pagoda compound walls is covered with murals depicting stories from the Reamker, i.e. the Khmer version of the classic Indian epic, the Ramayana. Some sections of the murals are deteriorated and weather damaged. The murals were painted in 1903-1904 by a team of students working under the direction of artist Vichitre Chea and architect Oknha Tep Nimit Thneak. In the 30s the galleries served as ad hoc classrooms for Buddhist monks.

RAMAYANA FRESCOES (DETAIL) - Ramayana Frescoes The interior of the pagoda compound walls is covered with murals depicting stories from the Reamker, i.e. the Khmer version of the classic Indian epic, the Ramayana. Some sections of the murals are deteriorated and weather damaged. The murals were painted in 1903-1904 by a team of students working under the direction of artist Vichitre Chea and architect Oknha Tep Nimit Thneak. In the 30s the galleries served as ad hoc classrooms for Buddhist monks.

SILVER PAGOA GARDEN ROYAL PALACE PHNOM PENH

LOTUS FLOWERS AT THE ROYAL PALACE PHNOM PENH

BUDDHA AT THE ROYAL PALACE PHNOM PENH

GARDENS WITH THE BELFRY - Belfry The bell is used to signal the opening and closing of the temple and for ceremonies

MUSICIANS ON TRADITIONAL CAMBODIAN MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS ATTHE ROYAL PALACE

PHOTOS BY:

LEONARD EPSTEIN

JANELLE NURGESS

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Brij permalink
    August 31, 2011 2:05 am

    Great pics Lenny!

  2. May 9, 2017 1:18 am

    That’s a smart answer to a tricky quoseitn

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