Phonm Penh on a Shoestring Budget

23rd Aug 2014
Photo of Phonm Penh on a Shoestring Budget 1/3 by Gayatri Manu
The Flicks
Photo of Phonm Penh on a Shoestring Budget 2/3 by Gayatri Manu
Tuo Sleng Museum
Photo of Phonm Penh on a Shoestring Budget 3/3 by Gayatri Manu
Shadow Puppets at Sovanna Phum Arts Associati

Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia is one of the largest growing South East Asia. Recovering from a crippling genocide, it now proudly flaunts all that makes it so vibrant - the rickety motorbikes, the saffron robes of the monks, the river islands and music blaring out of every street corner. Here are list of places you can visit under Rs. 1,500 or $25

P.S: Most Museums despite having descriptive signboards and accessible information would be better accessed with a guide.

Among one of the 150 interrogation cells/ prisons set up in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge, this high-school turned museum documents the horrors of the Cambodian Genocide. Pictures of terrified prisoners, letters written in panic and instruments of torture dot the dull grey walls of the Tuo Sleng Museum. While leaving the compound you will come across the rules for the prisoners which includes ‘While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.’ 2 of the 11 survivors of Tuo Sleng sell books in the compound and smile for photographs with immense sorrow in their eyes.

Photo of Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocidal Crime, Phnom Penh, Cambodia by Gayatri Manu

Watch the documentary The Killing Fields or The Breakfast Club while lying down next to fellow backpackers on the mattresses placed on the floor. The Flicks Community Movie House is different from the swanky multiplexes or the crumbling old theatres, it is a communal space for a cinephile. Under 200 rupess you get a tub of homemade popcorn, a drink, sleepy stories of a traveller and a good ol’ movie night. Call to make reservations and arrive 15 minutes before screening to make payments.

Photo of The Flicks Community Movie Houses, Phnom Penh, Cambodia by Gayatri Manu

A ticket to the Royal Palace also grants you entry to the Silver Pagoda. Named after the floor, which is plated in silver and specks of which you can see under the rugs that cover it. It is home to many Buddhist treasures that include an Emerald Buddha. On the Palace grounds is a structure made by the French out of the cast iron used in the construction of the Suez Canal and it stands awkwardly among the steep tile roofs and stupa shaped cupolas. The temple also houses a Buddha statue made out of gold and dotted with around 10,000 diamonds. The Khmer royalty love their bling almost as much as us Indians.

Photo of Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, Phnom Penh, Cambodia by Gayatri Manu

You are ushered into the dimly lit seating area and you realise that your punctuality has interrupted the rehearsals of the artists. The artists will smile gently and let you watch them as they prepare for another shadow puppet show or a contemporary dance performance. The association supports local artists and the performances are in English. While you’re backpacker pocket might complaint about the show prices, the performance, setting and close interaction with artists make it worth every penny.

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