This will be my last day in Cambodia. Man! what a trip, such an incredible country with incredible people and amazing history. It was hard to come to terms that I will be leaving Cambodia that night. But on that day I planned to visit the royal palace in Phnom Penh and the national museum in Phnom Penh. I had breakfast at the One Stop hostel and then walked to the Royal Palace.
Royal Palace in Phnom Penh opens in the morning and then it closes in the midday and then reopens again in the evening. When I went to the palace I learned that palace was closed from a tuktuk driver, I thought it was a scam at first. Because I have heard that tuktuk drivers tend to lie about the opening time and then force you to take their tuktuk to somewhere else. So I walked from the palace to the Phnom Penh National Museum.
The museum is a very simple museum, it looked like it used to be an old house. I saw a few statues such as Shiva Lingam outside. I forgot how much the ticket price was but it was well worth it. In the front they have a life size statue of Garuda, one of the national symbols. The museum starts with artifacts and inscriptions from pre-Angkorian era, i.e., before 600 A.D. Even during that time Hinduism played a significant role in the day to day life of Cambodian people. I saw a life size statue of Vishnu and Rama that were from pre-Angkorian period but they are so smooth and intricate as if they were carved yesterday. Every artifacts was ordered chronologically. I even saw a statue of Karaikaal ammayar, one of the staunch female devotee of Shiva. All these artifacts indicated that Cambodians had sophisticated art and engineering skills even before the rise of the Khmer empire. After I saw everything in the museum I went to Warung Bali to have lunch with my brother.
After the lunch I went back to the palace for the evening opening time. The ticket was around $10. There was a line to get the ticket but after you get in you can explore the palace as you like. I went to the stage with multiple buddha statues. It looks like a stage where dance and other performing arts are performed. Some areas of the palace are restricted for tourists, moon hall is open only to the invited guest of the king. Next I went to see the emerald buddha statues and the throne hall. No photos are allowed in those places. Emerald buddha statue is made of emerald and decorated with other precious stones. The hall that contains emerald buddha statue also has other antiques that belongs to the royal family of Cambodia. Like Angkor Wat and Bayon the surrounding interior wall is decorated. Instead of bas relief sculptures the royal palace of phnom penh is decorated with paintings, some of them are paintings from Ramayana other are those from Jathaka stories. After seeing the interior of the royal palace I came outside. In the outside there was a statue of Jayavarman VII and there was also a room full of pictures depicting the coronation of the current king Norodom Sihamoni.
After the palace I came outside to meet my brother, we went to get dinner at a restaurant close to the hotel he was staying. Then we walked around the mekong river that runs through the city of Phnom Penh. My flight was around 10 pm, I bid farewell to my brother around 7 pm and went back to my hostel. Checked out from the hostel and took the tuktuk around 8 pm. I couldn’t believe 14 amazing days have passed since I came to Cambodia! I am very grateful to the Cambodian people, all my hosts, friends that I made in Cambodia, all my tuktuk drivers and above all Lord Maha Vishnu of Angkorwat who was the main reason I came to Cambodia. As I was commuting to the airport I ws reciting this thirupavai chant that I always dearly memorized.
சிற்றம் சிறுகாலே வந்துன்னைச் சேவித்துன்
பொற்றா மரையடியே போற்றும் பொருள் கேளாய்;
பெற்றம் மேய்த்துண்ணும் குலத்திற் பிறந்து நீ
குற்றேவல் எங்களைக் கொள்ளாமல் போகாது;
இற்றைப் பறைகொள்வான் அன்று காண் கோவிந்தா!
எற்றைக்கும் ஏழேழ் பிறவிக்கும் உன்தன்னோடு
உற்றோமே ஆவோம்; உனக்கே நா மாட்செய்வோம்;
மற்றைநம் காமங்கள் மாற்றேலோ ரெம்பாவாய்.
– The End