Friday, December 28, 2012

Phnom Penh 2 Royal Palace Cyclo Tour (12/28/2012)

Friday, December 28, 2012
The RV Indochina stayed in port, so we are still in Phnom Penh. Today our shore excursion was a "cyclo" tour, using what others may call a bicycle rickshaw. We each had our own rickshaw. As they tend to say, something will fit one Viking passenger or three Cambodians. A tuk tuk can carry four Vikings, or a dozen Cambodians, etc.
A line-up of Viking passengers:
Off we go!
We headed west along the waterfront street of Sisowath Quay, passing the empty Night Market square (only open on weekends), and then Wat Ounalom, the oldest wat in Phnom Penh:
Here we took the right fork onto Sothearos Boulevard and continued past the Royal Palace. Here monks gathered outside the Chanchhaya/Moonlight Pavilion:
A vendor has birds to set free to gain merit:
We hopped out of the cyclos to enter the south gate of the Royal Palace, the gate meant for commoners like us. Just inside the gate is a Couroupita guianensis/Cannonball Tree (corrected):
Although native to Central and South America, it has been cultivated in Asia and has become sacred to the Hindu because the flowers resemble the hooded naga, the serpent often seen protecting Buddha.
We followed the gallery around to the east side of the first courtyard. The murals depict scenes from the Hindu epic Ramayana:
A statue of King Norodom, who had the Silver Pagoda built:
The Silver Pagoda or Temple of the Emerald Buddha:
It houses the national treasures including the 17th-century baccarat crystal Buddha (called the Emerald Buddha because of its green color). It is neither emerald, nor jade, or is it? There is also a life-sized gold Buddha inlaid with 2,086 diamonds. The floor is made up of 5,329 silver tiles, each weighing over 1 k/2.5 pounds. Only a small portion of the floor is exposed, the rest is covered with carpet.
We could only peek over the wall at the Royal Palace:
Because of the death of the former king, Norodom Sihanouk, the Palace is closed to the public. He is lying in state in the Throne Hall for at least three months. The Throne Hall stands out because its spire has the four faces:
Behind the Silver Pagoda is a model of Angkor Wat:
There are koi and a Platycephalidae family/Crocodilefish in the moat:
And an escaping turtle:
We went through a wrought-iron gate into a corridor between the Silver Pagoda and the Royal Palace:
Through a locked gate, we had a better view of the Throne Hall:
A monkey in a palm:
We visited a few exhibition rooms, including the White Elephant Room:
Back to the cyclos.
I know what this looks like, but I am positive that the cyclo driver has a plastic bag of tea tied on to his bike:
Often drinks are served in plastic bags like this.
We backtracked on Sothearos Boulevard, passing a large plaza where they appeared to be building a brand new temple:
This is the crematorium for the former king who has recently passed. Once he is cremated (probably in February 2013), the building will be torn down.
Behind the plaza is the National Museum:
We were dropped off for a guided tour through the museum, which has a few original artifacts from the Angkor Archaeological Park, such as the statue of the Leper King. A replica of this statue was in the museum's courtyard garden:
Back on the cyclos to take the scenic route back to the RV Indochina.
We passed a market, then the post office:
Went around Wat Phnom, past the US Embassy, the National Library and the Hotel Le Royal, and then cycled past the train station (1932):
Back on board the RV Indochina in time for lunch.
Next, Phnom Penh 3 Killing Fields.



Plant named as Shorea robusta is actually Couroupita guianensis

Jacksonville Stumpes said...

Thank you for the correction!