Phnom Penh, at the Central Market

Simo Capecchi from Cambodia – part two   (here is part one)

Phnom Penh

Last summer in my brief Cambodian tour I had as “special guide” my sketcher friend Lapin. His idea was to approach Cambodia from the capital, and than reach Angkor Wat temples by a long bus ride from Phnom Penh. So we stayed two days in this chaotic and fascinating city, mostly spent in the National Museum and at the Central market. The combination of vehicles, vespas, ancient buildings, small houses and skyscrapers, and all the street activities and noises reminds me my hometown Naples. I found people quite friendly and easy to talk to, when they could speak English or French.


Central Market


Inside a panoramic cafe – escaping the heat – we enjoyed an aerial view of the city and the Central Market, a beautiful art deco building of 1937 made by a french architect and recently renovated, that is now a landmark of the city.


near the Central Market

I adore to look at rooftops or in courtyards long enough to discover what’s going on.

In this case I can report: a guy doing the laundry apparently for a restaurant or hotel, smashing it with his feet in a large basin; a girl in the next terrace chatting with him, while washing and combing her dog, than watering the plants of two terraces nearby connected with stairs and also checking some food left to dry under the sun (fishes or fruits?); an open-air bedroom to relieve from the extreme heat.

Down in the street many Tuc-Tuc are ready to go and many others pass by.

Central Market

Inside the Central Market, where you can find absolutely everything, we got stuck in the fabrics and tailors wing. A group of women that, having to spend all day long inside, organize in tiny spaces all their domestic and family activities as eating, feeding or change diapers to kids, taking a nap, and eventually playing cards, if no clients are around. Welcomed in their “community”, we were offered chairs and the ubiquitous and indispensable fan.

Central Market

Among various market items, food is always the most interesting in a foreign country: we could not avoid to sketch dried fishes and the fruit stands.

Royal Palace

In the evening we rested in front of the Royal Palace, next to the river, where lots of people gather and the temperature decreases just a little bit.

Archeological museum

The National Museum is full of wonderful ancient sculptures, where I tried to get familiar with the many hindu and buddhist deities, while the building itself was made under the France colonization, inspired by traditional khmer architecture.

Since we sketched most of the time side by side, you can see in Lapin’s reportage the same locations though depicted in quite a different manner, as you may expect!

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