Still part of the
Sideview of the Wat Preah Keo with its well decorated false doors.
The compound offers another majestic experience starting from the beautiful landscape, the colorful garden, and the stunning, unique architecture of the temples, library, stupas, shrines, monuments, open halls, and galleries.
Beautiful orchids at the garden, with the shrine housing the statue of King Norodom at the back.
As we found our way to the compound, we found the primary building, the Wat Preah Keo which is also the royal temple. It houses many of the national treasures including gold and jeweled Buddha statues. Entering the temple we have to leave our shoes and slippers as a sign of respect. This time, I went inside and decided to linger for awhile. I assumed that it was forbidden to take photos inside so I didn’t bother taking some snapshots. I will just try to describe it. Hopefully you'll imagine me there.
The place is glimmering with gold, silver and jeweled displays. The floor is fully furnished with a red carpet that I decided to sit and then kneel (trying to mimic what the others were doing). It was a bit cold inside. It smelt of burning incense, mix of people's perfume and that distinct sweet, strange smell that I could not figure what. But I realized, I always smell it everytime I went inside the temples in Cambodia.
I saw some tourists bringing offers and praying to the big Buddha at the center. They call it “Buddha Maitreya” or Buddha of the Future. The 90-kg golden standing Buddha is covered with 2,086 diamonds including a 25 carat diamond in its crown and a 20 carat diamond entrenched in the chest. (I researched the stats here as I have no idea then how many they were). I literally fell on my knee just by looking at it. A shimmering delight. I’ve never seen such a shining beauty. I've seen the huge Golden Buddha in Bangkok, but this I think is far more beautiful.
I tried my luck and went over the center and knelt. I prayed too. No seriously, I did. I don't know why but the place was enticing. I prayed something like... “Dear Emerald Buddha, I don’t believe in you but I respect you like any belief or religion for that matter so please be kind enough to grant my wish…” Since I didn’t bring anything (flowers, fruits, etc) for my offering, I just dropped some Khmer money into the box.
Other displays include relics of Buddha, small gold and silver stupas, a collection of gifts, and contributions and gifts from other nobles and royalties.
This is the stupa built in memory of Princess Kantha Bopha, the daughter of former King Sihanouk who died at the age of four due to leukemia. This is one of the newest additions to the compound built only in the 60s. At the back is the Dhammasala.
After that, we toured around the compound and were mesmerized by the large stupas that sprang here and there. In plain sight, I found myself standing in front of the Stupa of Princess Kantha Bopha. Built only in 1960, this serves as a memorial sanctuary of the beloved daughter of the former King Sihanouk who died in1952 at the age of four due to leukemia.
Just behind this stupa is the Dhammasala, an open hall used for Buddhist monks to recite texts and also as a royal reception area.
We also saw the Stupa of King Ang Doung, which contains the ashes of the King Ang Doung (1845-1860), founder of the current dynasty and the great-great-great grandfather of King Sihamoni.
This is the stupa for King Ang Doung.
At the back of the main temple, we found the miniature model of the Angkor Wat. It was laid on a huge platform surrounded by a pond full of Japanese koi.
At the back of the main temple with the miniature Angkor Wat model at the platform.
Surrounding the platform are these huge Japanese koi.
Moving on, we found various souvenir shops selling all sorts of items including photocopied books on the historical sites in
Every tourist site in Cambodia has souvenir shop, exactly like this one. With two large elephants guarding the door and a smaller one at the left (not seen).
One of the great treasures I take home with me are the warmth and friendliness of the Khmer people. They like to smile a lot. This little girl is really cute. The woman on the right could be her mom or grandma. I found them smiling at me while I was heading for the Preah Expo. The kiddo gave me a curious look :-)
At the tail end is the Preah Sihamoni’s Expo which exhibits the story of King Norodom Sihamoni including his childhood and how he became the king after his father Norodom Sihanouk. He was a cultural ambassador and a classical dance instructor.
Entrance of the Preah Sihamoni's Expo with two mythical guards in front and a bas relief on the right patterned from the original bas relief in Angkor Wat.
A woman monk looking through the photo exhibit of the King.
Inside the Preah Expo featuring ceramic dolls re-enacting a royal ritual.
After going through the winding and maze-like route of the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda, Oki and I went out of the compound, terribly exhausted but fulfilled. This was our last day in
At night we have to meet Toe over dinner. We don't know where and how but we were already agitated by the idea.