Saturday 17th May – The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda

On Saturday I decided to visit the above, which are two of the main toursit draws of Phnom Penh.  They were set in immaculate grounds and polished gardens.  The Palace was quite amazing with gold everywhere.  There were various, relatively uninteresting artefacts in display cabinets and enough Buddhas to start a veritable Buddha colony.  The Silver Pagoda was equally gaudy.  As you walked through the complex there were numerous places that you couldn’t go into.  Some of this was due to the King being in residence and I think the rest was just them being mean, or alternatively so that you couldn’t see what the King gets up to in his spare time!  Okay, I’ll stop being facetious now.  Can you tell that I wasn’t overly enamoured by either?  I’m not really sure why I was so non-plussed.  The whole place just felt really artificial, ostentatious and in a slightly obnoxious way.  That’s probably slightly harsh, I think that following on from my previous day at S21 and the killing fields my mindset was in the wrong place and I found the whole richness of the area slightly wrong given the abject poverty of a lot of the locals, many of whom had been directly affected by the Khmer Rouge.  Granted this wasn’t the fault of either the Royal Palace or the Silver Pagoda but it didn’t make me any more sympathetic to either.  I guess they were kind of spectacular in their own Elton John type ways.  You can decide for yourselves when the photos appear on the site.


After my disillusionment at the Palace and Pagoda (hey they’ve even lost their titles now) I decided that the only thing for it was another manicure (no, I’m not joking sadly enough) and to get my hair cut.  I went into a relatively upmarket salon, like it cost $12 US for a haircut and manicure!  They took me out to the back which initially had me slightly worried as brothels often masquerade as salons – or is that the other way round?  Anyway, it turned out to be fine and all the lovely lady wanted to do was wash my hair, scrape half my scalp off with a “head massage” and do this thing where she smacked her hands against my head which made a cracking noise which I only hoped was her fingers and not my skull!  The thing they made me lie on had an electronic massage mat on.  I don’t know if you have ever used one of these things but they are seriouisly weird.  For quite some time I was trying desperately hard not to burst into fits of giggles.  I was trying to think of really serious and horrible things (think Austin Powers trying not to get excited) but it lasted for some time.  I then had visions of being the next person in the Darwin Awards by being electrocuted to death by a massage mat whilst some crazy Cambodian woman beat the crap out of my head pretending that she was giving me a nice massage.  This is not as far-fetched as it sounds, if you’d seen the state of the electrics in South-East Asia you’d have been thinking exactly the same thing – or maybe not!


So, I survived the near electrocution and beating and then the Manager cut my hair.  Why is it that in the majority of hairdressers all the people who wash your hair, sweep the floor etc are women and then the Manager is a man who cuts your hair and then points in a very annoying way for the minions to dry and style your hair?  Or is that just me again?  The haircut was actually really good and definitely worth the money so I’ll let him off his accusative pointing; well slightly at least.


And that leads me onto the manicure!  It was all going fine until she got out this tool which reselmbled a pair of wire strippers.  It turned out this torture device was to remove my cuticles.  Having not really had manicures in England (actually I had one when I was 18 which my awesome friends bought for me as a package at a beauty salon for my Birthday) I wasn’t sure whether this was normal procedure.  Actually, I remember them using the meagre orange stick in England but Oh No.  It was all fine until she removed a bit too much cuticle and my finger started squirting blood at her.  She promptly grabbed a piece of tissue, rammed it against the cut and later proceeded to paint straight over it with nail varnish… it all worked out in the end!

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2 Responses to “Saturday 17th May – The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda”

  1. Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Zelma

    Thanks Alex, indeed I will…although you have a fair old bit to read if you’ve only got up to Cambodia!

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