Just after sunrise this morning we slowly cruised down the Tonle Sap river and into the capital city region of Phnom Penh. The city is situated between the junction of three rivers: the Tonle Sap, the Mekong and the Bassac River which is a branch of the Mekong. South of Phnom Penh, the river spreads into the complex and large Mekong delta region.
Today was our last full day in Cambodia and our chance to explore the city. After breakfast we stepped off Jahan and explored the downtown city with local cycle rickshaw called a cyclo (pronounced see-clo). With one person per cyclo cab, we moved en masse providing a sight for locals as much as the city was for us. Our experienced and confident cycle drivers navigated busy traffic and weaved a path towards the temple of Wat Phnom. This Buddhist temple meaning mountain Pagoda in Khmer language stands 27 metres tall and was built in 1372. The beautiful gardens that surround with tall evergreen trees provided a peaceful place for reflection ahead of our busy day.
Our cyclo drivers soon delivered us to our next destination of the royal palace which not only serves as the royal residence for the King of Cambodia but is also the location of the Silver Pagoda. Its official title in Khmer language translates to temple of the Emerald-Crystal Buddha.
On our way to our lunch destination we passed a graduation ceremony for students celebrating completion of teaching diplomas. The celebration was even more poignant for a country whose recent history during the Khmer Rouge eliminated their elite or educated class. Our afternoon visits to the museum on genocide and killing fields was an opportunity for some to pay respects to those who were lost during this time.
Our evening on back on board Jahan we slowly cruised along the Mekong with a barbecue on the terrace deck and the evening was made even more eloquent with the performance of the Apsara Dancers weaving to the sounds of traditional Khmer music.