Up again at 4:30 am to a catch ride to airport for short flight from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia It took us longer to drive from the airport to the city then the entire flight. We check into the landmark Raffles Hotel designed in a French colonial style known for all the famous people who have stayed there. A glass with lipstick marks from Jacquiline Kennedy is on display – it is one dirty glass. We are down the hall from her suite and hope the hotel has changed the sheets since then.
We jump into a cyclo taxi for a cruise around the city center before heading over to the Royal Palace. Within the grounds, is the King’s residence, Throne Hall, Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Silver Pagoda), a number of royal family stupas, and pavilion of Napolean III. Royal Palace built first by French in 1866. The Throne Room used for coronations and official occasions with dignitaries was built in 1917, Khmer style. Carpet and tile on floor with gold throne used only for coronation day.
Sited next to Throne Room is the French style (think New Orleans French quarter) Napolean Hall, 1886, summer house given to Empress for Suez Canel opening ceremonies and later shipped to Phnom Penh. The wrought iron is mildly out of place and in disrepair for years as sore spot.
Enclosed is the temple containing the Emerald Buddha on which the floor is made of 5000 silver blocks – now covered in carpet. Objects obtained as gifts in state. Surviving the Khmer Rouge’s occupation of the Pagoda, there are a number of Khmer artifacts.
We continue on to the Nationsl Museum where the art collection consists of pre-, post and Angkor artifacts revealing India, Egypt and Angkor stylization. Also explaining religious timing of animalists, brahman worshipers, Hindu and Buddhism. A number of sculptures , architectural pieces and everyday artifacts from the Angkor Temples reside now in this museum. Following Kerry’s and Obama’s visit, the NY Met returned a piece to this collection.
Before lunch we stop by Lady Penh’s temple – Mtn Pehn- servicing all three religions orders: Animalists, Hindu, and Buddhisism. Originally said to be built in 1372by the wealthy lady, it has been rebuilt a number of times.
Lunch at hotel,