Day 6 Thursday 26 December Phnom Penh

We were up early this morning to take in the river promenade as our ship approached the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.  Phnom Penh is situated at the confluence of three rivers, known as the “Chaktomuk” (four faces) or “Quatre Bras” (four arms) of the Mekong, Tonle Sap and Bassac Rivers.  Phnom Penh is a city of more than 2 million people and is the country’s commercial, economic and political hub.

After breakfast, we disembarked the AMA Lotus and were taken by bus into the city for a guided tour of the spectacular Royal Palace, with its dazzling white and gold architecture. This lovely complex of buildings serves as the royal residence of the king of Cambodia, King Norodom Sihamoni. As we approached the Palace, we could see the high-sculpted wall and golden spire of the Chanchhaya Pavilion, which stood out against the riverfront skyline.  We were not able to go inside the Royal Palace because the king was in residence.

Then we headed to the Silver Pagoda (Wat Preah Keo Morokat), located on the south side of the palace complex – there were several buildings and beautiful gardens surrounding it.   The Silver Pagoda is famous for its 90 kg solid gold Buddha with 2086 diamonds and also an Emerald Buddha, which is made of baccarant crystal (the original Emerald Buddha is kept safe elsewhere). The temple is called the Silver Pagoda because there are 5000 solid silver floor tiles, each weighing 1 kg, that adorn the temple building.

From there, the bus took us to the Central Market (Phsar Thmey), with its distinctive yellow dome.  We spent an hour wandering around the many vendors’ stalls in a well organised and clean building and bought lots of souvenirs and a pair of sunglasses for Richard so that he can put his prescription ones away in case the lens falls out again – we will get them repaired properly when we get back to Brisbane.

The bus collected us and took us back to the ship for lunch.

We spent the afternoon trying once again to upload our photos to our website while most of the other passengers went on a shore excursion to the Killing Fields.

At 4.00pm, the three of us took a Tuk-Tuk and asked the driver to take us for a drive along the riverfront – we had a hilarious time as he didn’t speak English, but through a third person interpreter on two separate occasions,  managed to understand where we wanted to go and to bring us back to the ship.  We thoroughly enjoyed our Tuk Tuk ride.  A Tuk Tuk is a motor bike with a 2 wheeled carriage attached to the back – they can carry four people comfortably.

Prior to dinner we were entertained by some local children who performed a set of four traditional Cambodian dances.  They were dressed in traditional, colourful costumes and were an absolute delight to watch, as they were so skilled in their performance.

We sat with our now usual dinner companions and had a most enjoyable time, telling stories, laughing and enjoying the food.

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