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PHNOM PENH

 A minor hurdle to orientation in Phnom Penh is the frequency with street names and numbers get changed. The current denominations which date back to 1993, seem to have settled in, but there is still a chance again .The major boulevards of Phnom Penh run north-south, parallel to the banks of the Tele Sap and Bassac rivers. Monivong Blvd cuts north - south through the center of town, passing just west of the Psar Thmei (New Market).

SILVER PAGODA :

 The Silver Pagoda, or the Preach Vihear Preah Keo Morokat (the Emerald Pagoda) to Khmers, lies within the grounds of the Royal Palace, situated near the banks of the Tonle Sap. Originally a wooden structure, the palace was initially constructed in 1892 during the reign of King Norodom, but rebuilt in its present grandeur by King Norodom Sihanouk in 1962. And he spared no effort to make this a true embodiment of the billiance of Khmer art and a rich of an ancient culture. More than 5300, 1.125 kilo silver tiles make up the floor of the Silver Pagoda, giving it its name among foreigners. The silver floor alone weights over 6 tons. The staircase leading into the pagoda is marble, and inside, two breathtaking representations of the Buddha hold court. The Emerald Buddha is, in fact, made of Baccarat Crystal, and dates back to the 17th century. A small glass case nearby enshrines a sacred Buddha relic, brought from Sri Lanka by the Venerable Loeva Em, formerly of Wat Lanka , in 1956. But the second statue of Buddha (Picture on the left) is the one which often catches the eye of visitors the most strongly. Its 90 kilo gold body is studded with 2086 diamonds. The largest , on Buddha's crown, weighs 25 karats. Cast in 1904 by King Sisowath at the request of his elder brother King Norodo, it represents Maitreya Buddha in the Buddhist year 5000 - the future Buddha.

WAT PHNOM :

 The fortified city of Angkor Thom, some 10sq km in extent, was built by Angkor's greatest King, Jayavarman VII (ruled 1181-1201). Centered on Baphuon, Angkor Thom is enclosed by a square wall 8m high and 12km in length and encircled by moat 100m wide, said to have been inhabited by fierce crocodiles. The city has five monumental gates, one each in the north, west and south walls and two in the east wall. In front of each gate stand giant statues of 54 gods (to the left of the causeway) and 54 demons (to the right of the causeway), a motif taken from the story of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk illustrated in the famous bas-relief at Angkor Wat. In the center of the walled enclosure are the city's most important monuments, including the Bayon, the Baphuon, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas and the Terrace of Elephants.

NATIONAL MUSEUM :

 The National Museum offers very interesting exhibits of more than 5,000 artifacts, including an eight armed statue of Vishnu (from 6th or 7th century), a statue of Shiva (9th century), and a statue of Buddha dating from pre-Angkor period. Visitors can also see a statue of King Jayavarman VII (1181 to after 1201), who reconstructed the capital and Angkor Thom that was pillaged by Cham warriors in 1177. Jayavarman VII is the king credited with establishing a network of roads in Cambodia, using innovative building techniques to raise them above the level of swamp and building sophisticated bridges. Also on display are pottery and bronze pieces dating back to the periods of Funan and Chenla (4th to 9th centuries). A massive population of bats estimated to number more than one million, flies out from the museum's attic and circles the capital city of Phnom Penh before sunset and constitutes a spectacular sight for tourists. While Museum authorities want artifacts protected from bat droppings, wildlife advocates want these bats protected as well.