The Phnom Penh Royal Palace
I got back to the hotel and Richard and I went out for dinner, which
was in a very posh "fish" restaurant. I had Hokkien noodle with prawn
and a crab soup, and Richard had beef bourguignon — good, but not
really worth the premium price.
Most of the restaurants in the tourist area along the waterfront appear
to be owned by foreigners, presumably because they are the ones with
capital and Cambodia makes it easy for them to own property and run businesses.
Richard had been to the royal palace before, so again I went off by
myself. Over coffee I read in the newspaper about Thailand's ex-prime
minister being appointed economic advisor in Cambodia. Then I got a
rickshaw to the palace.
As well as the beautiful buildings and gardens, several buildings are
now small museums, with household items, weapons, royal accoutrements,
etc. many of them in gold and silver.
None of the other visitors showed any interest in them at all, but what
I enjoyed most were the frescoes in the Silver Pagoda depicting scenes
from the Reamker, the Cambodian reworking of the Ramayana. These are
decaying and perhaps damaged at the bottom (by the Khmer Rouge?), but
have some lovely details.
On the way back I saw an elephant walking along the street. I met Richard
for drinks in the FCCC, then we found a nice Thai/Cambodian restaurant
where I had the "amok" fish. After that we spent nearly an hour in an
Internet cafe while I rang Australia while Richard checked his email.
There were twenty computers shared between maybe a dozen people, with
just two phone booths at the back.
Next: Bookshops and a river cruise
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