[Travelogue] Travelling To The Kingdom Of Wonder - Cambodia (Phnom Penh Day 1)

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Hi Huneybees,

After hearing so much about the beautiful ancient city of Cambodia, I finally got to go see it for myself! With its rich history and its country's signature Wonder of the World - Angkor Wat has always been a draw for me. 

Of course, most of it is due to Tomb Raider, where Angelina Jolie played this sexy game-come-alive character - Lara Croft, raiding through the "tombs" where the significant Banyan Tree sits on top of the ancient temple - Ta Prohm was used in the background.

But our Lara Croft adventure only begins after we visit Cambodia's capital city -  Phnom PenhThe Kingdom of Cambodia formerly known as Kampuchea, the geography of Cambodia is dominated by the Mekong river and the Tonlé Sap ("the fresh water lake"), which is an important source of fish. 

A shot with hubby in the plane before we fly off....
It takes less than an hour to arrive in Phnom Penh from Singapore and we took the Tuk Tuk towards the hotel. It costs USD7 to go from airport to anywhere and once I got my prepaid SIM card for my mobile, we were on our way to the hotel. 

The Tuk Tuk is the most common transport in Cambodia and you can fit around 4 passengers, but the road conditions were not that good as it can get dusty as you approach the city area. Luckily I was prepared and we had our masks on most of the time. 

Our hotel - Queen Grand Boutique Hotel was within 15 mins ride and it is highly recommended mainly because of the view you get from the room. You can see the Royal Palace and it is a beautiful place to see the sunrise and sunset against the palace.

Lunch was at a backpackers' hostel next door and it was my first time having Cambodian food. I had the Cambodia Loc Lac in Beef. It's served like our Economical Rice, but the magic is in the Tuk meric (dipping sauce). It had salt, oil and sugar, which enhanced the taste of the beef. 

The next thing we know, it started to pour and the amazing thing is that it starts to rain everyday at 3pm~ It was the rainy season and most of the time, we would be heading back to the hotel to hide out until evening time for sunset or dinner time. So, after a lovely nap to hide from the rain, we headed out to take a stroll...

The Botum Park is just next to the hotel and once we crossed the road, we can already see the Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship MonumentThe Monument commemorates the former alliance between Vietnam and Cambodia. It was built in the late 1970s by the communist regime that took power after the Cambodian-Vietnamese War, which overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime. It features heroic statues of Vietnamese and Cambodian soldiers in the "Socialist realist" style developed in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, together with images of a woman and baby representing Cambodian civilians. 

Along the way, we saw the Cambodians spending their lovely evening playing soccer or feathered shuttlecock, as well as groups doing line dancing. At the side of the park were pushcart stalls selling food and it seemed like a very popular place, as people would drive by to pack some of the food home. It seemed really tempting, but hubby was saying not to risk it on the first night. :)

As we walk across the street to the park on Sihanouk Boulevard, we were greeted by more of the locals and in a distance, is the Monument Honoring Late King Sihanouk. The golden roof is very similar to what the Royal Palace has and the 4.5-meter (15-foot) tall bronze statue of King Sihanouk is housed within the 27-meter- (100-foot-) tall shrine.

The monument was only unveiled last year 2013 and the late King Norodom Sihanouk is a revered leader who guided the country to independence from France and through two wars before backing the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in a bid to retain power.

And in the background you can see the lotus shaped monument known as the Independence Monument. It is an icon in Phnom Penh and it is so beautiful seeing it light up as the night arrives. You won't be able to go too near it as it is situated right in a roundabout and crossing the road against the flowing traffic, might be too dangerous.

The Independence Monument (Vimean Ekareach) was inaugurated in November 9, 1962, celebrating Cambodia’s independence from foreign rule. Renowned Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann was the architect of the 20-metre reddish-brown stone monument which is patterned on a lotus flower bud, adorned with Naga heads (multi-headed cobras,) and obviously reminiscent in design of the towers of Angkor Wat. 

The Independence Monument now serves as a monument to Cambodia’s war dead as well as her independence and is the site of colorful celebrations and services on political holidays such as Independence Day (January 7) and Constitution Day (September 24).

Our dinner was by the Phnom Penh Riverfront. It is a vibrant part of the city, but too bad, it was too dark for any photos. Along the river are restaurants and an easy icon to spot would be the FCC Hotel, next to it is a stretch of restaurants serving Cambodian or Western cuisines.

And if you pass by shops that sell a Happy Pizza, you might be in for a treat. It is garnished with a certain "herbal plant" that might bring you on a hippy trip. I've been thinking of trying, but in the end, I still gave up for fear my body might not take it. *Yes, scaredy cat much!*

Our choice for dinner that night was at Khmer Saravan Restaurant for more Cambodian cuisine like the Amok and Curry. You can have balcony view on the second floor, but we stuck to the first floor as the drawings on the wall seemed pretty interesting to look at. Tourists from all over the world, left their mark in the restaurant and of course, your Queen Bee here had to do it too!

The night ended with a lovely stroll by the river and it was pretty romantic, perhaps under the influence of a couple glasses of Angkor Beer, but we slept soundly for our adventure the next day. Stay tuned to more of my Cambodia trip! :)


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