Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Phnom Penh, Cambodia (October 16-18, 2008)

Phnom Penh has seen both the best and worst of times over its nearly six centuries as Cambodia's capital city. The serene beauty of the Royal Palace and the National Museum is contrasted by the horrifying brutality that took place at the nearby Tuol Sleng (S-21 Prison) and Choeung Ek killing fields only a few decades ago.

Despite their tragic past, the people of Phnom Penh exude the amazingly positive and genuinely friendly attitude that seems to pervade the entire country. From families on motorbikes, to orange-clad monks of all ages, to countless children in school uniform, everyone seem ready with a smile.
The Royal Palace was built in 1866 for King Norodom and his family; the building in the foreground is the dancing hall The buildings within the palace compound are ornately decorated with wood carvings and paintings; the yellow color represents Buddhism
The floor of Wat Preah Keo Morokot, also known as the Silver Pagoda, is covered with 5329 silver tiles, each weighing 1.125 kg
A series of Ramaketi frescoes lines the inner wall of one of the palace courtyards
The Royal Palace is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. This young monk, who was visiting with a group from his monastery, asked to have his photo taken with me.
A Buddha statue at the top of "Kailassa Mountain," a small garden hill within the palace

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