As the plane was getting ready to land in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, all that was visible was water everywhere with patches of land replete with development and buildings.
I didn’t quite fully know the magnitude of Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers at that time.
From the moment we came out of the plane at Phnom Penh International Airport, I kept getting a feeling of home, read India, all through. The airport didn’t have anything special enough.
Maybe it was the autos (and that too Bajaj autos!) and two-wheelers all over the congested roads.
Maybe it was the small/low-rise buildings forming the major part of the place or maybe it was the congested markets or maybe it was the dozen two-wheelers parked haphazardly everywhere,
Or maybe it was the flooding of roads in ankle-deep water just after a very short spell of heavy rain.
Or maybe it was the way the tuk-tuk drivers keep running behind you to take a ride or maybe the presence of beggars outside all the tourist attractions and temples.
Or maybe the sight of cotton candy, popcorn, pinwheels and balloons sold along the Tonle Sap river promenade at Sisowath Quay was reminiscent of all those and more being sold in Marina Beach.
Or maybe the presence of our Hindu Gods even in Buddhist temples.
Or maybe because the Cambodians’ way of greeting each other by joining both their hands together just like our very own way of greeting.
But there were a lot of other differences. To begin with, Cambodia follows the ‘Keep right’ while driving on the road unlike UK, India or Singapore. This is because of the influence of French on them.
You see all signboards of shops written predominantly in their local language, Khmer.
Apart from cars, two-wheelers and autos, tuk-tuks form a major part of traffic on road. A few cyclos which are similar to the erstwhile rickshaws of India are there too.
There is not one but two currencies used here – U.S. Dollar as well as Cambodian riel – and all the shops here accept both the currencies.
Rivers, pagodas, Buddist temples, markets, museums, Government offices, the royal palace, high-rise hotels – all these are what makes up Phnom Penh.
More on Phnom Penh in the upcoming posts….