Finally on the third try, the Royal Palace was open to tourists, complete with tour guides who personally work for the royal family, but also offered guide services to earn extra income. My guide knew the palace in and out as well as some of the King’s regular activities, which he explained as we visited most of the buildings within the complex. It was nice to be able to roam about after the tour.
Afterwards, I enjoyed a long walk through Wat Botum park, which stretched across multiple blocks, seeing the statue of King Norodom Sihanouk and the Independence Monument before arriving at Wat Langka to check out the temple and it’s free meditation service.
Then I made my way to the Central Market, a combination of indoor and open air markets known for it’s breadth of options, which included fruits and meats. Given the sweltering heat caused by the masses of people in an enclosed space with glass ceilings, the greenhouse effect was quite uncomfortable and I was quite happy to finally find my way out to explore the surrounding neighborhoods before finding shade in Wat Phnom, a hilltop temple on a circular park offering some nice views of the city as well as a large clock built into the grass.
Extending west from Wat Phnom is another nice long stretch of park between Street 92 and 96, which lead to the National University of Management where I hung out at a coffee shop to observe a little student life, because to get from campus to campus requires crossing public roads and traffic, making it a bit inconvenient.
Next, I decided to cut cross the city center to the Aeon Mall so I could then slowly make my way back to the hostel via Naga World and see it’s casino in the evening as well as the Sambath Tonle Bassac Night Market.
When speaking with guides or people who work for or are connected to the government, be careful about the questions you ask so you don’t offend them and also so you don’t accidentally get arrested for subversion against the state or get into trouble. When I want to learn about sensitive topics, I usually wait for them to mention something that indicates their disappointment about it, then I encourage them to say more without asking direct questions.