Three flights and 15 hours later, we landed in Phnom Penh. Because we didn’t have check-in baggage, we quickly exited the airport and got into a tuk tuk to reach our guest house, The Artist. Most of the guesthouses in Cambodia don’t have lift facilities, and we had to climb four flights of staircases to reach our four-bed room, where our friends had already staked their claim. After freshening up, we stepped out into the city, all excited to experience the Cambodian way of life.
Phnom Penh was formerly called Krong Chaktomuk Serimongkul, and it loosely translates to the city of Brahma’s Face. The name came about after Lady Penh, a rich widow, found four Buddha statues, and one of Vishnu, floating down the river there. The wat (temple) where the statues are housed is a major tourist attraction today.
One of the striking features of the city is its well-laid roads. While the cityscape is modernist in approach, traces of its rich history are still visible in the form of architectural designs on roofs and walls of houses. We made our way to the night market even as we admired the traditional symbols like spires and pagodas on buildings.