Phnom Penh - Day 2
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Most of the group were up early, for we wanted to capture in early morning light the stark difference between the new and the old Phnom Penh. Where newer buildings were replacing run down slum tenements and where parks and new multistorey department building were now reaching towards the sky. We walked several kilometres from our Almond Hotel towards the river front, stopping to experiment capturing the reflections of golden sculptures in the pools of water left by the street cleaners. We practiced composition of leading lines of the newly constructed road bridge over to what looked like a new complete island of development.
Meeting up with our guide, 'Chinda' after breakfast, we boarded our vehicle to travel to a pre-angkorian temple (8th Century) to photograph the temple, the people and the monks living in the temple grounds.
We were told of life during and after Pol Pot – 1975-1979, when Pol Pot was defeated by the Vietnamese at a time when Cambodia had been diminished to a population of four million
This has now grown to fourteen million at the present time. Interesting was the fact that weddings in Cambodia now average at a cost of USD3,000-4,000.
Teachers in our tour group were interested that in Cambodia, teachers are paid USD$80 per month and school due to the shortage of teachers is conducted in two sessions – 7:00am to 11:00 and 1:00pm to 5:00pm. Not many children continue school after primary school because of having to help the parents in the fields.
The group photograph motos, an open trailer like vehicle drawn behind a motor bike affair that transports groups of people sitting on wooden seats within the trailer, exposed to the elements and the dust of other passing traffic.
We move onto Udong to explore the old capital city. Our group take the ‘Lady’ stairs (shorter climb to the top) and return by the ‘Man’ stairs (more stairs and steeper). A view of the surrounding country clearly defines how flat a country Cambodia is in this region.
A few of the older people remain on this hill for they are too frail to negotiate the path down.
We then move to the ‘Reclining Lady Buddha’ but the condition of the road, the Buddha itself and the distance travelled to see the sight convinces me to delete this section from future tours.
We move onto a small village of silversmiths and our group have their cameras clicking away once again, capturing this home industry and their amazing skills.
Quite a few purchases were made of items crafted by these silversmiths.
Our hotel is a welcome sight after a long day of journey trough out the country side surrounding Phnom Penh.