Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Tour Around The PP Sights

Returning the Phnom Penh last week, I was keen to get a look at the old, and new sights, with a mini tour around the city. I took a tuk tuk for a big lap of some of the key places, and walked to a few other old haunts.

One of the main differences to strike me when getting around the city is the change in transport from primarily motos 10 years ago, to cars now. Also, there is height in the skyline now! With many, many new shiny developments on the go.

As I rode past the slums in the south of the city, these appeared the same. Just now surrounded by new developments of big hotels and proposed office blocks.

After a wander through Psar Toul Tom Poung (the Russian Market), which is the same as always, and amazing, I visited Wat Phnom at the top of the city, which I actually had not done before.  This active temple and stupor used to be the highest point of the city. Now, from the surrounds you can see the new buildings of PP being built blocks away.

From here, I visited the iconic Central Market, which also looked the same from my time here 10 years ago, albeit cleaner and a little fresher after it's recent refurbishment.

Walking through the arms of the market into the central dome area, I experienced the smells and sights of the foods, fabrics, toys, tools, and then the electronics and watches on display in glass cabinets under the dome.

Just a couple of blocks from Central Market is the new, tallest building, underconstruction. This new development has a funky curved front, and is reportedly going to be an office block. Next to this is the new, finished building that we nicknamed the 'perfume bottle' after spotting it from the river at night.

These modern new buildings have altered the skyline of Phnom Penh completely, which used to only feature the Royal Palace, and the Independence Monument from some streets. Now the 'perfume bottle' stands out, with the towering new development sure to be a feature upon completion. Getting around PP, there are also signs and beginnings of more and more new buildings. PP is changing indeed.

Visiting at this time, just months after the death of the former King Norodom Sihanouk, it was evident at every street that this is a country still very much in mourning. The former King will be laid to rest following his funeral at the end of this month.

Throughout the city his likeness is displayed, with black mourning curtains on each sign. There are groups of mourners outside the Palace everyday, and people selling black ribbons and King memorabilia. A very meaningful time to have visited the city again.

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