Phnom Penh: 26 Aug 2003


Sunrise Silhouette

The sun rising over Phnom Penh. The view to the east from the railway station's main entrance with a beautiful silhouette of Satyak Mony Chet Dei.


Roadside Meal

Roaming hawker selling rice noodles, self sufficient in every way. The customer is squatting on the road tarmac next to passing vehicles to have his meal.



Two train services originates from Phnom Penh. The 6.20 am train runs to Pursat and Battambang, and the 6.40 am train runs to Kampot and Sihanoukville. Both services are mixed passenger and freight runs. The passenger coaches are old rusty cars with lots of holes everywhere... in the roof, the floor, and side walls. The seats are of hard bare wood, many of them being broken.


Vegetables & Fruits

The freight cars are equally in dilapidated state. They carry everything from fresh greens to mineral oils.


Business Class

Since passenger cars are hard and uncomfortable, many prefer to ride the long journey in the freight cars. This gives them the option of having a hammock to swing in rhythm to the moving train.


Platform Vendor

Where people go, food vendors will surely follow.


Pedal Power

Pedal bicycles are excellent... cycle to the station, load up the goods, load up the bikes, and jump on.



As a security precaution, most train runs have armed soldiers and policemen riding along. These soldiers were getting comfortable in a "holy" (full of holes everywhere) freight car.


Missing Seats

Missing seats? No problem. Just a mat will do. The lady in the black blouse was pounding betel leaves for chewing.



A primitive coupling method using shackles and tightening screws. The brake line hoses were kept in place by raffle strings.


Train Driver

Getting the engine ready for it's long slow haul.


Last Minute Repairs

A last minute replacement of the brakes on one of the cars delayed the train's departure by a few minutes. All it takes is a spanner and a small hand jack.


Little Boy

Having breakfast by the railway tracks. Flies were all about on him, but he seems not to be bothered by them.


Wat Phnom

Sitting atop of a small hill in the north of the city is Phnom Penh's most famous and most visited temple. Phnom means hill or mountain in Khmer, and hence the name Wat Phnom is literally ""Temple Hil". The city was also supposedly named after this temple. The enormous stupa above contains the ashes of King Ponhea Yat (reigned 1405 - 67).


Giant Clock

The 27-meters high knoll on which Wat Phnom sits upon is the only hill in the city. A long staircase leads up to the temple with cement serpents and lions on the banister. The view above faces south towards Norodom Boulevard.



There are many statues all about the park.


Lotus and Joss

Vendors selling lotus flowers and joss to the many people who come here to pray for good luck and success. The Gods and spirits are said to be especially fond of these and hence such offerings goes down well with their prays.



Wat Phnom, a much revered place is in rear danger of being turned into a circus. Beggars, street urchins, touts, and hawkers of all ages, all vie for attention to pester those who come here. There is even an elephant ride that you can take around the base of the hill. A gang of macaques living in the trees will rob you off your food when you least expect it.



Food vendors and those selling birds in cages don't really pester the visitors, but their sheer numbers is just overwhelming. Most vendors are ladies and they carry their wares on their heads.


Clearing Weeds

Entrance to the Wat is 1 US$. This goes to maintenance of the Wat and the surrounding park. There are security guards on duty who will caution you off if you are found walking on the lawn, and a whole team of ladies armed with spoons and table knives busy with removing weeds from the walkways.



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