Wat Phnom and the Birth of Phnom Penh City...

Wat Phnom is a temple at the top of a hill in the capital city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The temple is the destination of the faithful but a trek to the top will guide you through thick groups of vendors, gathering tourists and the odd elephant roaming about.

Not to mention the thousands of fruit bats that hang from the trees surrounding the temple.

They appear like a black cloud in the foliage of the trees and don't become active until nightfall.

They have become a nuisance but there is nothing to do about them. The ground around the temple is sacred and Buddhist law prohibits the killing of any living creature within those grounds.

If you want, you can get an elephant ride around the temple but I've never done it and can't figure why anyone would.

Unless you're trying to avoid the monkeys. They roam freely like they own the place. Check the video below to see what i mean.

The most current temple structure was last rebuilt in 1926 and received a face-lift in 1998.

The hill upon which sits the temple was the first area of settlement for what is now present day Phnom Penh.

Legend has it that after particularly heavy floods, a wealthy woman named Daun Penh found a tree on the banks of the Mekong.

Inside the trunk of the tree, she found four statues of Buddha hidden inside.

She built the temple in 1434 in order to house the four sacred statues of Buddha.

Today, Wat Phnom remains the highest artificial hill in Phnom Penh and the center of many cultural celebrations.

I was there for New Years Eve 2008 and 2010. It was packed with revelers from many countries.

Drive around it on your motorbike during the day or night and it is a serene experience in the midst of a chaotic city. It has become a gathering spot for the lady-boys of the night in the past few years.

If you drive by at night and see what appears the model from the cover of Maxxim magazine, hit the gas or run. Almost all are boys in various stages of pre and post op sex change surgery.

They are nice enough but with mug you if you stop for a ogle or two.


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