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Summer in Cambodia – Phnom Penh – You beauty!

Independence Monument, Phnom Penh in the night
Independence Monument, Phnom Penh in the night

French influence on Cambodia is very evident the way buildings and roads are laid out in Phnom Penh with Boulevards being a regular sight. And its an amazing experience to drive on the widely set roads with river Mekong flowing on one side and the Cambodian Palace and a few Ornamental Pagodas on the other side.

One of the early nights in Cambodia also gave me an opportunity to witness some of the best monuments decorated for the viewers delight – one of those structures was the Independence Monument that sits right in the centre of the city.

Adding to the beauty of the city was the overwhelming presence of the Golden Shower trees (Cassia fistula, called Kanikonna in Malayalam) on either sides of most of the roads. Coincidence it be, it was time to celebrate Vishu festival in Kerala and Kanikonna is one of those iconic elements of Vishu and you would be able to see these trees in their full bloom during this season. However the spread and site of Kanikonna in Cambodia took me by surprise – I don’t think I will ever see so many Golden Shower trees anywhere in Kerala and they were adding so much to the city’s grandeur.

 Dawn at the Capital

Tai Chi in the morning
Tai Chi in the morning

Early morning strolls on the banks of Mekong in Phnom Penh is another beautiful experience you can’t miss! You can see that the entire area would be kept spick and span – thanks to those lovely locals who get-up even before the sun rises and make it a point to maintain their golden city in good shape. So yes, walking down the lane during that serene moment of the day is awesome – but the fun just starts with that! You start seeing groups of people who are involved in different leisure activities – some of them practice Tai Chi, the chinese martial art form, with amazing coordination and the chinese fans adding as a prop, another group – both aged and young – play this strange game Sai or the Shuttlecock kick game and there will be lots of others who does aerobics in big groups led by instructors who are generally well equipped with a big stereo system.

Apart from these activities, the banks have small park sections with supports built to help people who want to engage in some free hand exercising. Work-out seems to be ingrained in their culture and no wonder they all look fit.

The Market

Sea-food section in Central Market , Phnom Penh
Sea-food section in Central Market , Phnom Penh

The Phnom Penh Central Market (phsar Thmey) is a one-stop place for anything and everything you’d want in Cambodia. Laid out in a neat fashion the market is the hub for consumables.. You can find small stalls arranged in an ordered manner selling  ornaments, clothes, vegetables, seafood and many more. I first went to the inner part of the market that displayed ornaments followed by the outer area that accommodated clothes and eatables. Sea-food area was a delight to watch the fresh fish, crab, shrimps, prawns and other variants – I have never seen this kind of a variety in any of the fish markets in Kerala. Considering the utilitarian nature of the market, you can find literally all type of people there – native khmer people, tourists and expats.

Written by Matthew John

Read more – Summer in Cambodia – Food, the Cambodian Way!

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