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Palace, Buddhist Monks & Night Life of Phnom Penh

For long western travellers have defined what is exotic…and now as we…the Indian travellers take over a large slice of this lucrative industry….we decide what is exotic too. And in my opinion, Cambodia is the best mix of exotic and a warmish feeling of home mixed together.

From the moment I arrived, I was struck by the warmth and friendliness of the locals. Everyone I met was eager to help me navigate the city and make the most of my stay. I checked into a lovely hotel in the city centre, which served as a comfortable and convenient base for my adventures. I went to a small boutique hotel (I always choose them over luxury or cheaper chain hotels) called Tea House, which is described as a small, urban boutique hotel designed in an attractive retro Chinese-inspired style, and found in a central location near the Independence Monument.

After dumping our stuff my friend and I booked motorcycle taxi (one for each) and headed to visit the Royal Palace. The palace is a stunning example of Khmer architecture, with intricate carvings and beautiful gardens that provide a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city. I was amazed by the palace's grandeur and the wealth of history contained within its walls. But even more amazing was our chance encounter with a young Buddhist monk who was also visiting the palace. We struck a conversation with him and ended up spending almost an hour soaking up his ‘Gyan’ on Cambodia and their style of Buddhism.

Afterwards we explored the palace which is set within beautifully landscaped grounds, which include stunning gardens and ornamental trees. Visitors are greeted by a stunning entryway that leads to a central courtyard. The courtyard is surrounded by several buildings, each of which is adorned with intricate carvings and statues. One of the most impressive buildings within the palace complex is the Throne Hall. It's a massive structure that's topped with a gilded roof and features ornate decorations throughout. The Throne Hall is used for ceremonial events, such as coronations and royal weddings.

Another notable building within the palace complex is the Silver Pagoda. It's named after its gleaming silver floor, which is made up of more than 5,000 silver tiles. The Silver Pagoda houses an impressive collection of Buddha statues, gold and silver artifacts, and other precious objects. Other buildings within the palace complex include the Khemarin Palace, which is the private residence of the king, and the Chanchhaya Pavilion, which is used for state and ceremonial events.

Of course, no trip to Phnom Penh would be complete without sampling the local cuisine. So the evening was spent at the famous Foreign Correspondent’s club or the FCC along Sisowath Quay’s river promenade, where the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers converge. Being a member of FCC in India, I thought we might get some extra privileges there, but that is not so. FCC of Phnom Penh is just like any other restaurant or club. Anyway, we enjoyed a few drinks and indulged in a wide range of delicious dishes, from spicy curries to sweet desserts. One of my favourite dishes was Amok, a traditional Cambodian curry made with fish and coconut milk. I also enjoyed exploring the city's vibrant nightlife scene, which offered everything from rooftop bars to live music venues.

Throughout my trip, I felt safe and welcome as a solo female traveller. The locals were friendly and helpful, and I never encountered any issues while exploring the city. Overall, my trip to Phnom Penh was a fantastic adventure, and I can't wait to return and explore more of this beautiful country.

One of the first things I did was to explore the city's vibrant street markets. From colourful textiles to delicious street food, the markets were a feast for the senses. I enjoyed haggling with the vendors and trying new dishes, and the bustling energy of the markets was infectious.


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