In my last time visited the Silver Pagoda, Royal Palace, beside the breathtaking views of the Silver Pagoda, I was impressed with some visitors’ photographing style. It seems the scenery there are so interested for them, and they might feel so fantastic of taking photos. In the modern lifestyle, each visitors would have a camera in hand, so that they can take any photo of their own style.
Lotus is a sacred flower which Cambodian chose to used for praying to God since ancient time for both Buddhism and Hinduism. Lotus symbolizes the purity and harmony of mind and spirit. People praying with lotus flower comparing to their honest prayers and pure belief in God.
In Cambodia, on every holy days of Buddhism, people would have lotus flowers to pray for Buddha God in the shrines, pagodas, and even in their own houses. Lotus for praying are lotus buds (not yet blossom). Cambodians have a special way to fold the petals of lotus buds to reveal the inner part of flower. Make it look artful and beautiful.
Cambodia has countless lotus ponds all over the country. It’s a unique beauty of Cambodia countryside views. People would be filled with delight to see the large lotus ponds with the earth smell of countryside. Cambodia has several kinds of lotus with pink, slightly pink, and white color. In most pagodas in the countryside, there is at least a pond of lotus growing. People in the city also like to have lotus growing in a large pot or vase for decoration.
In the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, we would find a white lotus growing around the statue of His Majesty Norodom.
Rumdul Flower (ផ្ការំដួល)
Rumdul or Romdul is the Khmer name for Mitrella Mesnyi. Rumdul with its three-petaled yellowish-white flower has been selected to be the national flower of Cambodia.
Rumdul flower has a very attractive scent, especially in the late evening after the sunset. Rumdul is popularly planted in Cambodia home gardens and also in public parks. It’s a big tree with the highest one is about 12m. The leaves grow so thick and great green, flowers are blossomed hidden behind the leaves. We hardly see many flowers without move aside its leaves. Only its special fragment smell that attracted people from far away.
Rumdul has become a part of Khmer literature, since Khmer authors have written their novels, poems, and songs related to Rumdul flower in the meaning compare to Khmer ladies. You might find some Khmer oldies song on youtube about Rumdul, some of them are: Rumdul Longvek, Rumdul Kratie, Rumdul Steung Songker, etc.
Cambodia people like to take the name of flowers for their daughters. Rumdul is among very popular names for Khmer girls.
Visiting the Royal Palace, after the ticket checking point, behind the bowing angels are Rumdul trees. The trees are about 2m high, since it’s still young. And you might not find its flower yet. Inside the garden of the Throne Hall and the Silver Pagoda, there are large Rumdul trees, and the flowers can be seen.
Rumdul fruit is edible. Many tiny fruits growing out in clusters with dark-red (the color of grape) when ripen. Rumdul fruit has a sour-sweet taste and has got a big seed inside. The first fruit eaten, you might feel it’s very sweet, but the more you eat, you would feel much of sour taste instead. After eaten, your tongue would turn violet, because of its color.
Since Rumdul are growing widely in the forest, the fruit might be considered as wild fruit. It’s only found selling in Siem Reap or Kampong Thom where close to the forest, and it’s become rare fruit for Phnom Penh people.
Pka Sarika or Pka Keo (ផ្កាសារិការឺផ្កាកែវ)
It’s another kind of white fragrant flowers. Pka Keo also has the special fragment smell only in the late evening. Especially, the evening after rain, the flowers grow on every branch of the tree, turning the tree from green into white color. The wind blows the pleasant smell in a long distance. The flower is less during the hot weather days. Pka Keo tree is a kind of high tree similar to Rumdul too, but the tree trunk would be bigger.
Pka Prolit or Water Lili(ផ្កាប្រលិត)
Pka Prolit is Khmer name for Water Lili. Water Lili is a kind of flower growing in water, similar to Lotus. Some of us get confused Water Lili to Lotus. Water Lili has smaller petals, the inner part also different. Its leaves never grow out of water, but only on the surface of water. Meanwhile, Lotus leaves is bigger, growing up from the water. Water Lili has many different colors: pink, white, yellow, violet, and red.
The Bronze Bowl is used to contain holy water for religious ceremonies. The holy water is normally taken from Kulen Mountain, where the waterfall is very clear and Cambodian regard it as holy water. The holy water will be mixed with jasmine flower and lotus petals. The holy water will be used to sprinkle on people as a form of blessing. Or for cleaning the face, or for bathing the hole body to release any particular bad luck.
This is a statue of Hari-Hara which located along the entrance of the Royal Palace into the Throne Hall. Hari-hara is a harmony of the two deity Vishnu and Shiva. The right side is Shiva with the vertical third eye and his piled matted hair. And the left side is Vishnu with his tall miter. Harihara was symbolic of worldly power, symbolized by the warrior king (Vishnu), and spiritual power, as symbolized by the ascetic hermit (Shiva), in one figure.
Cambodia was once a famous Hindu-Buddhist kingdom in Indo China, known as the Khmer Empire. From many temples of the Angkor area in Siem Reap province, we can find numerous sculptures and carvings of Vishnu and Shiva. Angkor Wat was built to dedicate to the God of Hindu, Vishnu, in the reign of Suryavarman II in 1113.
There was once in the Khmer kingdom, occurred the religion war between the people who believed in Vishnu and another group who believed in Shiva. In order to end this war, the King has built Hari-Hara as a supreme God for the two groups of people to worship.
There is a temple located in Kampong Thom province called Prasat Andet, built in 7th-8th century. This temple is built to delicate to Hari-Hara. We can see the Hari-Hara statue in this temple.
Pka Raing Phnom
Most visitors to the Royal Palace would find this flower tree strange, and some of them question that: it’s real flower?
Yes it’s really flower, though it looks like not real. We call it Pka Raing Phnom in Khmer (Pka mean flower for Khmer). This is treated as a sacred tree, since our Buddha God was born under this tree. It’s a kind of huge tree, but its flower only blossom from the tree trunk, especially near the tree base. In the Royal Palace, the area for visitors, we can find four of this tree. One is near the entrance before arrive the Throne Hall, another one far behind the Hor Samrith Phimean, and two more near the exit door from the Silver Pagoda.
As I saw this tree from far away, I was so wonder of what kind of tree is it? The red color are flowers? Does Cambodia has the tree with red color leaves same to the trees in Europe countries?
When I was near the tree, I knew it is Raing Phnom tree. But then why this tree become like this? While the other one still having green leaves. Looked around, I saw Mr. Security guard and I got the answer. Raing Phnom tree would have 2-3 times a year that its leave turn into red-yellow and started to falling down until the tree has no leaf left. Then it starts to grow out new green leaf buds again. But it doesn’t have seasonal of leaf falling, it’s not sure in what month of the year. Each tree has different times of leaf falling.
Tro Leung Teung Tree
Visiting the Royal Palace, before arrived the ticket booth, visitors may be surprised with some remarkable plantations. This one in Khmer we call Tro Leung Teung tree. It’s a very tall tree, but it flowers and fruits are at low at near its stump. The flower looks very attractive with red color and the fruit look funny with green elliptical shape. Tro Leung Teung fruit is used in cooking for Khmer kitchen. It’s used as ingredient for sour taste of soup instead of tamarind.
100 Hands Banana
This is we call 100-hands-banana in Cambodia. But on the net I saw people call it 1000 fingers banana. To normal banana, we would have at most about 12-14 hands only. But this kind of banana has more than 100 hands. People don’t eat this kind of banana, just grow it for nice looking. The tree is as high as normal banana tree, about 2 meters. And the stem of the fruit can be nearly as the tree’s height, nearly touch the ground.
After the main gate to get into the Royal Palace, visitors must walk a short distance before arriving the Ticket Booth. Though, visitors don’t have to wait until they arrive any specific pavilion of the Royal Palace, they can always start to entertain the views along the way by taking photos as much as they like.
This is the tool used to shred coconut meat before we can extracting coconut juice. This is a very old one, which is now display in the royal palace. It made from a kind of good wood, that have been carved as a rabbit and at the mouth of the rabbit there is a round blade made of iron, where the coconut meat is shredded. People would sit on the rabbit and start shredding by pushing the coconut up and down on the blade. Unlike modern days, the coconut meat is shredded by machine.
We still can find in some houses in country side, people still use this tool. Some are made of solid iron and with different shape.