Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Phnom Penh: Independence Monument and Riverfront

Our Similarities bring us to a common ground;
Our Differences allow us to be fascinated by each other.”

~Tom Robbins~

Two major tourist attractions in Phnom Penh are the Independence Monument (Vimean Ekareach) located at the intersection of Norodom and Sihanouk Boulevards, and the Riverfront road in Sisowath Quay which stretches from the Sothearos Street where the Royal Palace is all the way to Street 104 near Wat Phnom.

As a Filipino traveling in a foreign country like Cambodia, I could not help but compare these two attractions with the ones that we have here in the Philippines, Luneta and Baywalk.

Independence Monument and Rizal Park

Independence Monument upclose

Check this amazing 20-meter tall, red-stone structure designed by Cambodian modern architect, Vann Molyvann.

Independence Monument vista

Strategically located at the intersection of Norodom Blvd and Sihanouk Blvd in the capital city of Cambodia to constantly remind its people the freedom they have achieved from France.

the monument with decorations

Surrounding the monument are decorations (banderitas) that stretch along the intersection of the Boulevards. The city celebrates His Majesty's birthday.

Both are located in the hearts of the cities of Manila and Phnom Penh, thus significant in the lives of their people.

While the monument in Rizal Park is shaped like a small moon (lunette) thus the named Luneta, the Independence Monument of the Cambodians is a lotus-shaped stupa which is distinctive among its architectural designs as found in Angkor Wat and other Khmer historical sites. Both structures were plunked strategically for what they stand for. For the Filipinos, the Luneta serves a historical site of some of the most significant moments in the Philippine history like the execution of Dr. José Rizal, the Declaration of Philippine Independence from American rule, and the holdings of political rallies during the Marcos regime and EDSA.

For the Cambodians, the Independence Monument signifies its freedom from France. It was first built in 1958 and is now the site of colorful celebrations and services during holidays such as Independence Day and Constitution Day. Unlike the Luneta, which was a work of a Swiss sculptor Richard Kissling, the Independence Monument was designed by Cambodian modern architect, Vann Molyvann.

When we were in Cambodia, we passed by this monument three times. The first time was during our first night in Cambodia wherein we opted to hang out at the Sisowath Quay to eat, on our second day on our way to visit the Royal Palace, and on our last night when Toe decided to give us a brief night tour of the city. So on both occasions, we saw it during its shining moment at night and its glorious state during the day.

Toe said that this monument plays a significant role among Cambodians during national celebrations. True enough, the monument was well decorated and well lit when we were there. This is because the city was celebrating His Majesty’s birthday.

The Riverfront and Baywalk

riverfront with flags

Vendors walking along the stretch of the riverfront in Sisowath Quay.

Philippine flag

Spotting the Philippine flag (beside Poland's). The flags, I noticed, were arranged alphabetically.

stretch of Sisowath Quay

Taken from the back of the rickshaw we were riding on our way to the Wat Phnom located in the intersection of Norodom Blvd and Street 96.

picnickers at thr riverfront

A vista of picnickers taking their lunch under a big, shady tree overlooking the river.

Luneta in Cambodia

A closer look at some of the locals taking their lunch. :-)

strolling' photos

A girl strolling along the grassy area of the park. Not really minding the heat, is she?

If you’ve been to Baywalk, Manila’s famous promenade along the stretch of Roxas Boulevard which is known for its stunning sunsets, then strolling along Phnom Penh’s Riverfront in Sisowath Quay will no longer feel strange. I walked on both roads and I can tell you, except for some slight and obvious differences like the signs, street names, and locals talking in Khmer, everything felt similar. Looking at the locals made me feel more homey than the usual.

The first thing I noticed when we got there were the different flags stretched along the riverfront. It was by instinct that I immediately looked for the Philippine flag. I sat underneath its pole while feeling the cold wind coming from the river and munching my favorite Cambodian mango. Yeba!

Some of Phnom Penh's most important cultural sites as well as dozens of pubs, restaurants and shops are located in this picturesque park-lined riverfront overlooking Chaktomuk the point of confluence of three rivers: Tonle Sap, Mekong, and Bassac Rivers.

Not faraway from where we stood was the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda and the National Museum which were all clustered together between Streets 178 and 240. The famous Cambodian promenade also harbors several restaurants and high-quality boutiques and is known for its 'Art Street' connecting several and interesting little art galleries and silk shops. The riverfront also rewards a spectacular sunrise sightseeing for early risers.


Ferdz said...

Nice comparison on the two. I also notice in most cities, even local provinces, they have their own versions of "Baywalk" or "Luneta PArk" naiiba lang ng main monuments and design nung place.

Nakakatuwa lng yung main monument nila. Kung pwede lang pumasok at umusyoso sa loob. hehe

Sidney said...

Interesting post and indeed the similarties are striking.
One again well documented with pictures to proof what you claim.

pieterbie said...

Wow, all this information.
I really like those monuments, must be pretty impressive standing close to them.
I like the last photo of the young girl as well. Great how her hair is swept back by the wind.

my gulch said...

I guess every country has its own monument to boast of. This is to constantly remind its people of what they were in the past and how they should live today.

Onga no? Parang lahat ng mga monument at temples nila ay may butas na pwedeng usyusohin. Kahit noong nasa Siem Reap kami, gusto ko ding pinapasok yung mga butas ng mga temples. Expecting na may makikita ako aside from the incence sticks at mga rebulto ni Buddha.

Thanks! I know you have been to both places, Baywalk and Rizal Park/Luneta so in essence, it's like you have also been to Cambodia's Indie Monument and Riverfront. Now isn't that neat? :-)

One thing I like about Cambodia are its variety of people. They are like us in so many ways but they remain unique in my eyes. They are friendly to foreigners but I think they are more friendly to Filipinos. hahaha! ours could be an isolated case but i really enjoyed conversing with them in as much as they enjoyed talking to us.

Toe said...

Hehe... I've never seen the sunrise. :)

You are quiite right about the comparisons. In fact, everytime I jog/walk in the Independence Park, I often think about how much it is like Luneta and the riverside is like Roxas Blvd.

Did you see the monument with the fountains or hindi ninyo naabutan?

Great photos, as usual!

kyels said...

Nice comparison. Looking at those pictures brought back significant memories of Baywalk! I was there for its sunset and to enjoy the sea breeze.


my gulch said...

naku hindi namin yun naabutan, hehe. sayang. pero ang ganda talaga ng mga palamuti sa monument nila. kakaaliw! salamat Toe sa night tour...

so you've been to Baywalk. that is so nice to hear. so you know what i am blabering about. i hope you could come back here.

drei said...

for a moment i thought it was our baywalk. hehe. i like the last pic with the girl :)

uy may bagong URL si man of mars: www.manofmars.wordpress.com

though i'm making a new blog soon. balitaan kita :)

Travel Europe said...

Very Great Post, The pictures are awesome

Payday Loan said...

Just love your article so much, Will visit Cambodia soon

Debt Consolidation said...

I never know, Cambodia is the best place to explore.

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