EYE IN THE SKY - Remote places whispering tales of a wanderlust. Travels in Madagascar, Brazil, Peru, the Seychelles, Bhutan, Maldives, Fiji, UAE, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Brunei, India, Bangladesh, Japan, Vietnam, Laos, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Philippines, and then some.
This is a Philippine blogsite; a "journal" solely meant to document my travels. Cover photo taken in Ilafy, Madagascar.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Phnom Penh Part 7 - Rains at a Deserted Train Yard
TRAIN STATION AND BUDDHA HAIR
When I decided to check out Phnom Penh’s train station, it was a gloomy day with low lying clouds hovering the skies. I checked the map and saw a small temple, Wat Oanolum standing in front of the train station. This small temple was allegedly built to accommodate a "strand of hair” of Buddha. Upon reaching the wat (temple), I found a neglected stupa of greenish hue with gates firmly shut, surrounding the small structure. There was nowhere else to go but the nice-looking train station nearby. Although this train depot is temporarily non-operational, occasional non-commuter freight trains have schedules to deliver goods to select provinces. Adventurous backpackers are occasionally allowed to ride if they don’t mind staying above the carriages – under the sun, with wind on their faces.
WANDERING AROUND A DESERTED TRAIN YARD
The front doors of the station have been likewise shut, but I trudged towards the right side of the building where there’s a gate leading inside a train yard. I talked to the guard and requested to be allowed in. He shook his head but after a smiling plead, which he probably did not really understand, let me through. I walked the deserted grounds towards the tracks. Several carriages were parked. It felt eerie to be there, like roaming a ghost town. I would have gone further afield towards the western area - where I see some shanties - leading to BoengKakLake, but I saw a couple of stray dogs heading my way. After a scary encounter with such beasts in Savannakhet Laos, I decided it was wise to stay put. Not a minute later, a heavy feastful torrential rain fell over the arid lands – and it didn’t seem to be slowing down. I crouched down and considered my options. Then I made a dash towards the exit gate, knowing I’d be drenched in the rains, then headed to the shelter at the front of the train station along with other locals.
I waited at a concrete slab with other Khmers, when a 10 year old boy sat beside me. He kept looking at my watch which he later tapped with his finger. He said a few things in Khmer. I said “hello” and when he realized I wasn’t Khmer, he suddenly backed away. Haha.
Downpour... rain, rain, go away....
A strand of buddha's hair is kept inside.
Sorya Shopping Center - Phnom Penh's biggest shopping complex (above and below).
SoryaShopping Center is a shopping mall in the Daun Penh District of Phnom Penh. It is a westernized complex, and contains a number of stores, stalls, fast food restaurants, a cinemaplex showing Khmer movies – mostly fantasy adventures and horror flicks, a food court at the 4th floor, and a cd-dvd shop where I once again bought several titles. At the fifth floor, there is a viewing ledge where you are treated to a view of the city from above. SoryaShopping Center is currently the largest modern shopping complex in Cambodia, although several projects for larger shopping centers are being planned or under construction in the country.
SHOPPING IN PHNOM PENH
In the northern district of the capital, I passed a huge department store simply called DS which turned out to be Phnom Penh’s version of Rustan’s where European garments and products are sold at ridiculous prices, even for Philippine or American standards. From an off-the-beaten track visit in the peninsular island of Chrouy Changwar and on my way back to my guesthouse, I told my motorcycle driver I wanted to check out DS DepartmentStore. I went in and saw a single fastfood restaurant at the left side of the store. I took to the escalator that scaled 5 storeys. At the top floor was a ladies’ boutique that had guest lounges. I randomly picked an item to check out the price. This was a nice looking ladies blouse. The tag price - $900! Jeez! My floor almost caved in from surprise! That was ridiculous! More and more metropolitan malls are being constructed as we speak. The latest one that opened is theSovannaSupercenter, another 5-storey shopping complex with marble tiles and huge window panes – and an area that spans 50,000 square meters. For some reason, just like the Siam group of malls in Bangkok, photography is not allowed inside.
For other needs, you can always try the tourist favorite Central Market and the Russian Market for both designer (originals) and knock-off products. However, my driver Tei hinted that most items at these markets are overpriced.
Phnom Penh cityscape - from Sorya's 5th floor.
Pretty tuktuks in a row...
A food stall at the Food Court, 4th floor, Sorya Shopping Center. Like Bangkok and Chiangmai, you have to purchase a food coupon then buy your food in exchange of these coupons. I'm not too fond of that system, to be honest.