Wat Phnom and the Titanic

Over the past couple of days, I’ve met and kept company with several people who work/volunteer at the hospital. Brandy was an intern who will be shortly heading back to the U.S. for medical School. Greg just arrived from the U.S. and will be here for a month to practice at the hospital. (The poor boy – he’s still seriously jet lagged.)

In any case, the three of us hired a tuk tuk to take us to Wat Phnom, probably one of the most important religious sites in Phnom Penh. It’s situated on a hill, and the surrounding park (which Greg’s Lonely Planet calls a “circus”) is not so impressive. There are people selling souvineers and food, a few beggars, and supposedly an elephant that you can ride around the grounds. (Which we didn’t see.) There are also cages and cages of birds, which for a price, you can buy a bird so as to release it to its freedom. Rumor has it the birds are trained to return to their owners though. That wouldn’t surprise me.

Once you climb the hill and enter the pagoda though, it’s a completely different feeling. It’s not a large space, but there are many candles and some very beautiful statues, including a large and graceful Buddha. There were a number of young adults, lighting incense and praying. Brandy seemed to think they were students praying for good fortune on their exams.

Standing quietly in the back, I could definitely feel something in the air. Perhaps not to the same degree as I felt at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or the Western Wall in Jerusalem, but something. After watching to see how it was done, I made an offering as well. That moment, I think, was the highlight of my day.

Later, we went to the riverfront and walked along the Tonle Sap. The riverfront is heavily geared towards tourists, but we wandered around and saw some sights. Lunch was at a place called Titanic, right on the river. Very nice food – we shared a Vegtable Curry, Chicken Skewers with Lemongrass, and Water Buffalo with Lotus Stems. All were quite tasty, and the watermelon juice I also had was refreshing. And yes, this marks my first time eating water buffalo. If you’re curious, it tastes a lot like beef, except much leaner.

Later that night… a series of power outages, and I didn’t get to see the last 10 minutes of the original Thomas Crown Affair (with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunnaway). So frustrating! If anyone knows how it ends, please tell me!

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~ by Samer on August 13, 2007.

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