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Published: October 31st 2017
A very busy day today with the morning spent looking after Alexander and an architecture tour of the city in the afternoon.
We had forgotten how energetic 2yr olds can be. After playing with Alexander’s favourite aeroplane for an hour we headed up the road to the condominium tower which has a children’s playground and a swimming pool. Wonderful. The locals don’t think it’s very hot as it is quite windy at this time of the year keeping the temperature down, a bit.
Coffee and a cookie at the local cafe ended the outing as we headed home to wait for the nanny. Fortunately we had time for a nana (and Pa) nap before our tuk tuk and guide arrived at 2.30. We booked online through Khmer Architecture tours who offer group or private tours. Ours was a mix of the two tours they offer, French Classical architecture and 1960s new modern buildings.
As I said earlier a lot of the French classical buildings are in a dilapidated state even though people still live in them. When more people returned to Phnom Penh in 1998, after the defeat of the Khmer Rouge they squatted in these empty buildings
which after a time became theirs. The Grand Hotel, built in the 1890s, was quite sad as there were still glimpses of the glory days with the original floor tiles and shutters, with the room number just legible. It is home now to maybe 20 families and is worth $US1000 a square mtr to buy.
Another place people appropriated was inside the Chinese temples and the catholic church. Brick walls were built to section off each living area, with the ceilings and roofs of the original building still visible. Hence inside the church, looking up from a tiny ‘street’ we could see the vaulted roof.
Driving along the riverside promenade preparations for the water festival were in full swing. Apparently people come in from surrounding districts complete with their boat for the races. Huge frames have been set up to hold neon lights. It should be quite spectacular.
The last building we saw, the National Sports Complex was incredible. Built in 1964, by Cambodia’s renowned modernist architect Vann Molyvann, it uses architectural features such as water, and holes under the seats, for natural cooling and ventilation. The three entrance staircases on each side act as supports for
Brown Coffee Cafe
At least they kept the original arches.
the whole tiered seating on the inside. Hopefully the photos will do it justice.
We thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the tuk tuk, just watching the traffic, people and generally the world pass by. The traffic may have been crowded but because of the volume, not just nose to tail but side door to side door, no-one can do more than about 5 miles an hour.
Tomorrow we are off to Kampot, an old fishing village on the south coast for a couple of days.
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