After about 25 minutes of moving, the bus stopped at Naga World hotel, the temporary residence of the entire group during the famtrip. The room key was given to each member of the group. The group leader Mai Anh announced that a sight-seeing visit to the Royal Palace and the National Museum would be in the afternoon. Therefore she requested that the inner city tour have military conduct, which meant any lateness would be subject to a fine.
After a rather delicious lunch at an Italian restaurant, the Phnom Penh city tour officially began but the group leadership was handed over to Dan, a very well-known tour guide in the country of pagodas and towers (Xứ Chùa Tháp). The historic relics and tourist attractions of Phnom Penh are in close proximity, just ten minutes of walking sometimes. The first step in the schedule was the visit to the more than a century-old Royal Palace with the total area of over 40,000 square meters. The special feature of the palace at the present time is that most important events of the royal country of Cambodia still have been held over here. It is also the principle residence of the King and the royal family. As Dan pointed out, I saw a big post with a marine-colored flag hanging on the top of it. It indicates that the King is currently in the palace, otherwise (no flag), the king might be on a royal trip outside the palace.
Across one side wall of the palace is the Chua Vàng Bạc (Gold & SIlver pagoda). To the Kmer, it has the name Wat Preah Morakat, whose point of impression is the fact that it currently maintain the storage of 1,650 antiques, in which Xá Lợi (Sarïra) and numerous other Buddha statues were made of 24 carat of pure gold with diamond attached. All of them were skillfully and handsomely built hundreds of years ago. According Dan, all of them if combined together cannot be compared with the one made out of precious sapphire that is placed in the highest position in the pagoda.
The structure of this statue allows the light to penetrate through making it look real transparent with a pretty green color. This provides a clear proof for the distinction between sapphire and jade. It is the most sacred treasure of Cambodia with a tremendous amount of pride. There are only six countries in the world today have Buddha statues made of sapphire, which are China, Thailand, Myanmar. Sri Lanka, and Lao. Besides the pagoda foundation was covered with 5.329 pieces of silver, square like bricks. Silver bricks were cleverly hand-made and weigh exactly 1,125 grams each. If viewed by one’s own eyes and touched by one’s own hands, it leads to the understanding that long time ago the people of Cambodia once had a prosperous and splendid era with the extremely developed civilization.
After touring the royal palace and the Gold pagoda, the entire group walked leisurely to visit the National museum and the nearby pagoda of the Phnom Penh Goddess. The museum has kept many statues made of rocks and coppers from 7 to 14 centuries. The sculpture of the Cambodia artists in the old days was so exceptional that frequently challenging scientists today in the face of Angkor Watt wonder, and Angkor Thom, another ancient city with plenty of pagodas and temples. Unfortunately, it has not found out that how people in the old days could create such amazing architectural works.
Phnom Penh at night looks so beautiful and quiet. The group wandered around the streets, then stopped at the French quarter which lies closely along a river to enjoy cups of cocktail while listening to the immortal song “Heal the World” of Michael Jackson. I thought to myself Peace is the most valuable thing in life. Only after experiencing a great amount of heart-breaking and losses, people come to the realization that happiness, peace, and joys are all they always look for in their lives.
The following day, just after the breakfast, the whole group tried to decide on the combination of going shopping at the Russian market and the new market of the city of Phnom Penh. Cambodia does not have a great deal of products to turn it into a shopping heaven. But there are some good local products such as Battambang rice, Siem Reap sausages, palmyra sugars, and delicious dried fish from the Tonle Sap lake. After a moment of searching, I bought some sweatshirts having the picture of Angkor Watt printed on, and cheap and pretty shawls. Shopping in this country has a lot of fun because of friendly and calm sellers. Bargaining is allowed as long and as much as you wish without any problems at all.
To me the return to Phnom Penh this time has many new meanings, especially the recent, considerable changes in the capital of the country of pagodas and towers. The building of the five-star hotel Naga World is an obvious evidence of the development. Phnom Penh has changed vigorously to welcome everybody.