Vignettes From Phnom Penh’s Riverside

A pile of lotus buds in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Carrying salmon and ivory-colored lotus blossom offerings, the Buddhist worshippers entered the crowded courtyard in front of a small temple along Phnom Penh’s riverside. Once inside, they left their spiritual contributions.

The green, pink and white pile of offerings inside was apparently growing so vast that officials periodically tossed the decorated green coconuts and buds through an open window – landing into a receptacle outside the tiny temple.

I wondered where the spiritual buds in the growing pile would next journey having had such short-lived residency inside the temple?

As incense danced in the air, couples and families congregated along the riverside. Street-side merchants fashioned offerings. Vendors of all ages pounded the pavement selling their wares while the flags of many of the world’s nations flitted overhead…

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All rights reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

21 thoughts on “Vignettes From Phnom Penh’s Riverside

    1. Cabbie Notes, many thanks! I’ve perused your site a few times and have been impressed by all the wonderful places you’ve voyaged to. When you make it to Cambodia, I highly recommend spending a few days in one of the provinces as well. We only spent a week in one (Takeo) but it was special being away from the big city — even though I find Phnom Penh to be a very accessible and enjoyable capital city.

      1. Thank you for your kind words. I hope that my stories from my travels will continue to interest you. I look forward to traveling to Asia more extensively in future and will definitely regard your advice on Cambodia. For now, cheers.

      2. The Pacific Islands are also on our Wish List now. It’s funny that I thought our traveling sabbatical would somehow quench my travel thirst. Instead, it seems as though it’s fueled it even more! Here’s hoping you’ll make it to SeA soon. Such a splendid part of the world!

  1. What an incredible experience.

    You capture the emotion of the moment. I especially like the shot of the one girl (young woman) amidst the crowd of people. You’ve focused on her as she casts her gaze downward. It’s the 12th shot from the bottom, I think. I also like the solo portrait of the older woman in prayer. She’s wearing white. Her face speaks of hardship and pain, yet there is peace about her.

    1. Mona, thank you for your very thoughtful comments.

      Cambodia is a magical place. Your comment about the older woman whose face “speaks of hardship and pain” but “there is peace about her” sounds representative of the Cambodian people as a whole. They’ve been challenged so much in recent decades yet they’re some of the warmest, most positive people I’ve met. Such an inspiration!

      1. My husband and I are on an Asian sabbatical and so far we’ve made it to 8 countries. I’d been to Cambodia in early 2009 and found it to be an intriguing country and I wanted very much to return. The Cambodian people are very authentic, the Angkorian sites are incredible… It’s just a special place that I wanted to see again, and I also wanted my husband to experience it.

        During my first trip, I was only there for a handful of days; this time we stayed for three weeks. (In addition to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, we also spent a week in rural Takeo Province at a homestay over Christmas.) That was a special experience and one I blogged about as well… Highly recommended! I’m happy to share more details and share contacts if you’re looking to go to Takeo!

  2. Wow Trish,
    This pictures are so beautiful and spiritually enriching, no to talk about the wonderful pastel colors of those beautiful flowers.

    1. Buongiorno, Silvana, and how nice to bump into you here. :) Thank you for your kind comment. It’s interesting — I just read that the pale pink lotus blossoms are traditionally-reserved for the supreme deity – the Buddha – whereas white lotus blossoms signify purity and spiritual perfection.

      A hug to you and all the Heidelbergers! :)

  3. Great photo essay – wish I could be there to see and experience myself. Phnom Penh is one of those places I hope to get to some day soon. Looks amazing. What an experience.

    1. Hi Anita, and thank you for your kind feedback! Here’s hoping you’ll make it to Cambodia soon – Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) all have incredible sites, but we really spent some of our best days in the Cambodian province of Takeo.

    1. Thank you, Ron. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Cambodia twice and we spent wonderful days in Phnom Penh. Certainly, there are difficult reminders of the past there (Killing Fields memorial sites, etc.) but there’s also a lot of hope for the future!

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