Friday, April 27, 2018

Wat Phnom Temple in Phnom Penh

One local story claims that Wat Phnom is the hill from which the city of Phnom Penh drew its name.  The first Buddhist pagoda was built on this hill in 1373 and legend has it that a Khmer woman was wandering by the riverbank one day and discovered four statues of Buddha in a tree.  She constructed a small shrine on a hill to protect the site and, over time, the hill was raised to 27 meters (89 feet) and maintained as a sacred site.

Wat Phnom on the hill

In 1434, King Ponhea Yat established a city around Wat Phnom and named it Phnom Dom Penh, which was soon shortened to Phnom Penh.  Inside the temple on top is a central alter with a large bronze seated Buddha and many other statues and items of worship, along with many worshipers.

 Inside the temple

On the grounds outside the temple, at the top of the hill, are many smaller areas of worship, full of people on this beautiful day.

Outside worship areas

Several entrepreneurs are selling small birds out of cages that people purchase and set free.  Releases of captive bird are often performed in Buddhist rituals and, as bird sales appear to be slow today, one of the vendors is handing them to his son, who is taking great delight in releasing them.

 Bird release

Walking down from the temple, I look back up at the striking architecture of the important place.

Temple grounds

Circling around the temple, I find a great clock built into the ground on one side, large enough to be read from all around the square.

Temple clock

Wat Phnom is a part of the very old history of this town, but is still updated and maintained and very much a part of the current-day Phnom Penh.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Markets in Phnom Penh

I visit a small local market, Phasar Chas, near the river front and offering a genuine Cambodia market experiences.  Entering the market, I head right over to the food section, fabulous selections of vegetables, meat, and seafood.

 Phsar Chas food market

Behind the food market are stalls selling clothing, housewares, and jewelry.

Clothing, housewares, jewelry, ....

Leaving the market, I spot some of the local monkeys running between buildings on the electric wires.  A pedicab driver also spots them, stops and takes out his sling shot to take a few shots.  He misses and moves on.  There are warnings posted in the parks to hang on tightly to belongings or the monkeys may steal them!

Watch out for the monkeys

For a different market experience, I head over to Phsar Thmel, known as the Central Market.  The Central Market was build in 1937 with a fabulous art-deco design of four wings and a central domed courtyard.  Containing the usual market offerings, from avacodos to jewelry, this building is incredible!

Central Market

 Inside Central Market

What similar and different experiences, the local Phsar Chas market and the Central Market.  This is a good introduction to daily shopping in Phnom Penh.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Wat Ounalom Temple in Phnom Penh

Wat Ounalom sits between the Royal Palace and the National Museum, facing the river esplanade, and is probably the most conspicuous of the city's temples.  This complex is the center of Cambodian Buddhism and the residence of  the country's most important monk.  The temple was established in the 1440s and consists of 44 structures on the temple grounds.

The entrance to the temple is through a simple gate, but once inside, there is a lot to see scattered around the grounds.  Before entering, the view of the temple from across the street is appealing (now if only all those cars and trucks would move on so I could get a clean picture!).

Wat Ounalom temple

 Temple grounds

Inside the temple buildings are intriguing architecture, furniture, sculpture, and displays.

 Inside temple buildings

Several buildings contain beautiful floral displays at the alters.  As I reach the top of the stairs to enter one, I see that a famous monk is there that day, with a line of people down the stairs waiting for private meetings with him.

Temple buildings

Continuing through the compound to the rear, I find the temple cemetery, still in use.

 Cemetery, old and modern headstones

Returning to the front of the temple, I take one last look at the beautiful complex and also find an important requirement to temple life, the chicken cages, near the entrance (monks have to eat also).

 Final view of the temple, temple chickens

I've started with a variety of experiences:  palace, museum, temple, now where to next?