Palaces and Pizza in Phnom Penh

We left the towering skyscrapers of Singapore behind and arrived in the capital of Cambodia. Phnom Penh felt like a blast from the past. Rusty tuk-tuks buzzed through dusty roads, ancient pagodas surrounded the city and not a single western shop or restaurant was in sight. After traveling through Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, this was a relief. The big metropolises were wearing me down and I couldn't wait to relax and enjoy a slower pace of life.

We started our adventures at the majestic Royal Palace.

Built in 1866, the elegant palace is home to the current king and queen. The grounds are open to the public when they aren't in residence.

The palace compound was enormous. We wandered through luxurious halls decorated with gold ornaments and statutes. The architecture was also phenomenal. I can't believe the amount of detail put into everything. From the doorknobs to the rooftops, everything was chiseled and painted with perfection.

Many intricate pagodas and temples lined the grounds. The Silver Pagoda in particular was strikingly beautiful.

After walking under the baking sun for an hour, we said goodbye to the palace and went to search for some shade. We escaped the heat by going inside the National Museum. Here, the most precious treasures of Cambodia are housed.

Ancient sculptures of stone, metal, wood and ceramics are preserved and put on display for tourists and locals to enjoy. Dating back countless centuries, these impressive works mostly represent Buddhist and Hindu divinities.

The museum also had a serene garden bursting with exotic flora and fauna. It was nice to take a break, lean on a cool pillar and take in the lush scenery.

That evening, our appetites got the best of us and we went out in search for dinner. Along the Mekong River, we noticed a string of pizza joints all advertising something called "happy pizza". Intrigued, we took a seat inside Happy Herb Pizza to find out what it was.

After a quick Google search, we realized that "happy pizza" is sprinkled with a special herb...if you know what I mean. ;)

We ordered a round of 50 cent beers (can't believe how cheap beer is here!) and a medium "happy" salami pizza to share.

I was surprised that the pizza actually tasted good! We dipped our crusts in a variety of sauces, washed the cheesy slices down with more beer and waited for the effects to take hold.

Within the hour, we were engulfed in a fit of giggles.  And a little while later, we were passed out cold in a deep slumber. I can say that "happy pizza" really does work folks!

Happy pizza joints can be found all over Cambodia. Also, if you want a more potent pizza, just tell your server you want it "extra happy". :)

Melissa Li

I’m a Canadian girl on a quest to step foot in every continent before I’m 30. You’ll most likely find me chowing down on Japanese ramen, partying at a music festival, hiking to the top of a scenic lookout, cuddling with cats, or chilling out at the beach. I’ve visited over 60 countries so far and hope to inspire you to do the same.

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