Cambodia, known as the Land of Smiles, has a special place on my mind as it was the country where I celebrated the Diamond milestone of my travel history — from the first country of Singapore to the 60th country of Cambodia. It is Cambodia for foreigners, but the country is fondly called as Compuchea, its erstwhile name, by the nationals.
The local language is ‘Khmeo,’ but English is widely spoken. US Dollar bills are officially in circulation and do get accepted even at small tea shops. The River Side area is the tourist hotspot and the best place to stay in case you visit the capital city, Phnom Penh — pronounced as ‘Penumpen. The city is situated on the banks of the Mekong river that originates in the Tibetan plateau and runs through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, covering a distance of 4350 Km before emptying itself into the South China Sea. The Mekong river is a main trade route in Southeast Asia.
One important aspect of public health that I noticed in many countries is the availability of public parks for people to do physical exercises like jogging, cycling, etc; Such parks can be seen in sizable numbers in South American counties like Brazil, Peru, etc. Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Cambodia. had gone one step ahead by installing fitness-equipment at public parks. In the following album you can see people — children, youths, adults and elderly — exercising with such equipment in Phenom Penh. Such parks are definitely a good step toward public health!!
Cambodian food is closer to the Chinese flavor, but I could find a few dishes which were close to Indian food. Local food also includes locusts, cockroaches and beetles. If you feel an irresistible urge to taste these local delicacies, they are readily available at roadside mobile-restaurants. Take a look at these ready-to-eat roasted beetles and locusts.
Cambodia is predominantly a Buddhist country though I could see Christian churches in the capital city. There are many pagodas in the country. Wat Phnom is one of the largest pagodas in the heart of Phnom Penh, and it is also called “Monkey Temple” as there are plenty of monkeys in and around the temple.
The pagodas welcome one and all without any discrimination. Going around inside a pagoda offers virtual moments of absenteeism from the outside word as the carefully crafted statutes, painstakingly engraved walls and beautifully portrayed scriptural paintings steal your attention without attrition.
Inside a Pagoda:
The Diamond Island city, locally called Koh Pich, is very near to the Central Phnom Penh and is a residential-cum-business and entertainment place. It was a swamp till 2000 but had been developed as an artificial island. This island is the most opulent place in the capital.
There are many museums in Phenom Penh, and the following one I visited.
Vaishnava’, a Hindu deity, as exhibited at the museum:
Chann Thon is a famous Cambodian model who mostly does commercials connected with cosmetics. She is a friend of my acquaintance in Cambodia, and we all had lunch together.
Hinduism was the predominate religion before Buddhism reached Cambodia. The following is the replica of a 12th century Hindu temple. Surface: First level = 1500 m x 1300 m, second level = 1025 m x 800 m.
A woman in action on Cambodian folk dance:
Cambodia is famous for the 12th century Angkor Wat temple, which is located in Siem Reap, a province that is 314 Km south off Phnom Penh. I visited Siem Reap and would write a separate blog on Angkor Wat and the floating villages in Siem Reap.