China and Cambodia: Part 13

Then the final day of our trip was upon us. We had most of the day in Phnom Penh before it was time to make our journey back home.

Our first stop was the National Museum of Cambodia. What a lovely museum! The first hall is filled with all sizes of bronzes, which is pretty impressive. Other halls have many stone sculptures of gods and goddesses from Hindu and Buddhist traditions. There’s even a little section of the courtyard with linga and yoani!  One side of the museum had more recent artifacts from the 19th century such as wooden sculptures and a caravan. One of my favorite parts of the museum was a section of contemporary Cambodian artists. I love seeing the mashup of contemporary and older art. Just beyond the contemporary art was a room filled with Buddhas, which was really great. Sadly, photos were not permitted without an extra fee (don’t ask me why I didn’t pay it. Foolish choice!)

The main section museum centered a courtyard with a Buddha statue in the middle surrounded by four lakes filled with fish. You could buy fish food from a vendor in the museum. And obviously, we did. (With all the cats, dogs, and birds of this trip, it was time to give fish a turn). We had a lot of fun wandering from pond to pond distributing tiny bits of dried food. Can’t say I’ve done that at a museum before!

Afterwards, we decided to wander the area a bit, something we hadn’t done a lot of. Around the museum, there were stores selling art, sometimes large sculptures that I wished I could have taken home. We also ended up at a market, less touristy and more everyday. It was a fascinating experience walking through the halls to see the various household goods and food on sale. Sadly, no fried crickets to redeem myself.

We took a little trip to Wat Phnom that we had seen on the first night. It was well worth the trip. It seems to have been built on a hill so there are various levels to explore as you climb up. We saw beautiful shrines filled with offerings. It was lovely. My friend paid to release sparrows back into nature from vendors at the Temple.  When we left, I bought a durian popsicle from a vendor on the street. While it wasn’t fresh durian, it was absolutely delicious. At least, I got a taste of it in this part of the world. Next time, my mission will be to get fresh durian!

We eventually found ourselves on the riverfront again for lunch. Once again, our food was amazing, fresh and incredibly cheap. I had another coconut with lunch. So tasty and refreshing. We decided to go back to the Foreign Correspondents Club for a final drink before heading to our hotel. We shared a few drinks while watching the boats float down the river. What an amazing trip.

We took a tuktuk back to the hotel to rest a bit before our midnight flight back to Shanghai. We ate the remaining candy we had from Shanghai and watched Cambodian TV. We hired a car to take us to the airport. We were a bit early so we found a series of chairs nearby and had some pastries from the Blue Pumpkin. Eventually, the gate opened, we checked our bags (giving a silent prayer that we would see our bags again), and entered the main part of the terminal. I managed to have one last coconut before our flight!

We were slightly delayed, which made me a bit nervous. We were the last plane to leave Phnom Penh that evening so there’s always the chance that they’ll cancel it. Thankfully, our flight took off. When we landed in Shanghai in about 5 in the morning, we played the eternal game of who do we trust. When we checked our bags in Phnom Penh, a sign informed us that we had to collect our bags in Shanghai and recheck them. However, when we got to the desk in Shanghai to get our boarding passes for the next leg, we were told that our bags were checked through. Shades of South Africa again. We decided to trust the Chinese official and made our way to gates. We had a final meal of dumplings at a cafe, which was pretty good for airport food.

We flew home and collected our bags without an issue.

What an amazing, exhilarating trip. Can’t wait to go back!

That’s all for now!

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