The grounds of the Royal Palace of Phnom Penh, Cambodia was unlike anything I've ever seen in the Western World. The amount of love and devotion which is poured into the upkeep of the gardens and overall surroundings is exceedingly obvious, and the result of their efforts is a National attraction which is a joy to experience.
While wandering around the temples, I noticed quite a number of Khmer men armed with clippers and other gardening tools. Amidst the throngs of starry eyed tourists, they carried out their various jobs, deftly trimming hedges, raking fallen leaves and checking for weeds. Despite the sweltering heat, they donned thick gloves for protection against what I could only imagine to be prickly thorns.
Lining the steps of the palaces were rows of flowerpots, showcasing blossoming flowers of vivid hues. Large Asian style palm trees stood tall as sentinels on the lawn, their fronds faultlessly trimmed and flaunting the healthiest shades of green. Even the lawn was immaculately kept and designed in various patterns around the concrete pathways.
Now, whilst flowering plants, shapely hedges and countless trees are definite prerequisites for a lovely garden, there are other aspects of the grounds which added to that 'wow' factor. All throughout the premises were small ponds filled with colourful Koi. These fish ranged in sizes, from small to very large and they seemed to play peek-a-boo with the visitors amidst floating lilly pads.
Also, on any Royal lawn, there must be fabulous lawn ornaments. There were tall stone ponds filled with water and lilly pads, which children tried their very best to touch. Regal carriages made of wood were parked in front of temples, their roofs elegantly designed and tipped with gold.
Most impressive for me were a pair of large life sized stone elephants which were placed near the Western Gate of the grounds. One elephant has its trumpet raised and its jaws opened, as if sounding a war cry and preparing to charge.
While the temples are obviously the main attraction at the Grand Palace, it is my humble opinion that the grounds on which they stand deserve attention as well. Sometimes, the saying 'All which glitters isn't gold' really rings true.