Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wat Phnom

The spiritual heart of Phnom Penh is Wat Phnom, the city temple that stands right in teh centre of the city.

Built at the top of a small hill (a phnom), it was constructed centuries ago, legend has it, by an old grandmother called Daun Penh. It is from this combination (Penh's Hill) that we get the name of the modern city Phnom Penh.

The temple is always busy, particularly on the full moon day when people come to make offerings and have their fortunes told.

My friend Sambath inside Wat Phnom

Inside the main Wat structure you can find statues of Daun Penh, which are rouged, draped with fine cloth and regularly supplied with cosmetics and toiletries, all the things it is supposed Grandma Penh would have liked.

Outside is another, very popular shrine to Daun Penh, overflowing with the same items. Phnom Penh's residents frequently visit their foundress and ask her spirit for help and favours.

On another side terrace there is also a very busy shrine devoted to Vishnu, the Mahayana Buddhist Goddess Kwan Yin and the spirit of an early king. This shrine seems to be popular every day of the year, particularly with the city's Vietnamese community.

If you are interested in learning more about travel writing, I will be teaching a free Travel Writing workshop at Marrickville Library on the 27th September 2014. For more details and to book your place call the library.

Got a question abut Wat Phnom or Cambodia? Why not ask it in the comments below, or on Twitter where I am @walterm - love hearing from you!