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Phnom Penh: National Museum + Wat Phnom

We dodged the touts and ended up walking to the hotel - Richard was paranoid about hotels paying commissions to taxi drivers, though my suspicion is that at least in this case any commission wouldn't have been added to our bill. We were ended up in the Paragon, which is on the riverfront in the tourist strip.

The Paragon Hotel is a little impersonal, but conveniently located and has large clean rooms.

We paid US$28 per room per night, paying a little extra for rooms facing the river. But the windows had huge bars on them, and the view was much better from the common balcony just outside. So if you're staying here, don't bother paying extra for the river rooms, just use the balcony.

We were ravenously hungry so our first trip out was to a little local Chinese food shop, where they'd finished doing lunch but we had cold duck and chicken with rice. We then took a rickshaw to the National Museum, for $1 after Richard haggled.

The currency in Cambodia is a little odd. US dollars are used for all significant transactions, but there are no US coins and Cambodian notes effectively serve as small change, with 1000 riel being 25c.
Buddhist monks in the museum courtyard
repair work on the museum roof

The museum mostly holds stone sculptures and inscriptions from Angkor and earlier, but there are some later wooden Buddhas as well. There are some superb pieces. There's not much in the way of overall interpretive structure, but many of the descriptions of individual pieces offer a lot of information.

The museum is a rough square of galleries around a central courtyard, making it easy to traverse. There's no air-conditioning, but there were some fans and it wasn't too hot in the shade — and the courtyard has large pools of water and is very peaceful.

For more about the National Museum of Cambodia, see its web site.

From the museum we got a rickshaw back through town to Wat Phnom, which is a pagoda built on an artificial hill about 25 metres high, apparently the original centre of the city.

painting the lion
this monkey wasn't satisfied with bread
local girls

the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Cambodia
From there we went to the FCCC, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Cambodia, where we drank fruit smoothies, I used the free wireless to check and send email, and we watched the sunset. We chatted to the Australian woman sitting next to us, Tris, who was working for the Charities Challenge Commission and had been cycling around southern Cambodia.

Dinner was pizza for Richard and fried rice with shrimp for me. Then it was back to the hotel and my evening chores: laundry, shower, backing up photos, etc.

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