- Published on Friday, 21 September 2012 10:51
- Written by Steve Vaile
Wat Lanka Hotels
I've spent the last couple months living on the rooftop of a new hotel down a sleepy alley in the bkk1 district of Phnom Penh, just a patchwork of tin roofs and treetops from Wat Lanka pagoda and Phnom Penh’s Independence Monument. The two pieces of traditional Khmer design dominate my view to the north; the tallest skyscraper in Cambodia is visible beyond them, at night the light on the new tower’s construction lift moves up and down the futuristic skeleton, disappearing beyond the old silhouette of the pagoda. The view describes in part why I love this country so much; it’s a visual of where the new meets the ancient and how the futuristic and blends and contrasts the quiet traditional life. In the mornings you can see the monks streaming out of the monastery to collect food and support from the community, they can be seen giving blessings and wandering around the area, many days they carry the iconic colorful umbrellas that have been a focus of Cambodian art and imagery. Sometimes the early morning brings sounds of the monks chanting, and in the early night the Wat’s bells mark the closing of the big grey gate to the monastery and pagoda, these sounds infect the surrounding area with a unique cultural feel.
Wat is the word for temple or pagoda in Cambodia, and Wat Lanka is one of the five oldest monasteries in Phnom Penh. The temple and monastery was intended to house holy writings and meetings and was named from the Sri Lankan monks who contributed to its founding. The Wat is located next to the independence monument in BKK1, which saw heavy conflict during the Khmer Rouge Regime. The Wat’s renovation in the years after and its location made it a popular pagoda with well to do families, so the temple enjoys better upkeep and is one of the better looking pagodas in Phnom Penh, and enjoys a higher upkeep than others in the city. The temple is seated at the end of the lively golden street that’s popular with travelers and frequented by the expat community. In the afternoons you can see monks on the monasteries’ roof tops, or returning from elsewhere on a motorcycle taxis. The temple has a beautiful yard with massive trees and can be visited in the daytime, a minute walk from my hotel, One Up, or from any of the awesome businesses on Golden Street 278, the temple is still in use today and is a holy site for many people, so remember to be courteous in your choice of clothing and behavior while visiting.