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Phsar Thmei

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The stunning butter-coloured art-deco ziggurat that is Phsar Thmei is the most unlikely of buildings in Phnom Penh, and within you’ll find everything from jewellery to avocados and deep fried crickets to white goods—just be prepared to negotiate hard as the prices are higher here than at any other market in the city.

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Designed by Jean Desbois and completed in 1937 under the oversight of French architect Louis Chauchon and Russian-born engineer Wladimir Kandaouroff, at the time of completion the market was said to be the largest in Southeast Asia. Constructed on the site of what was originally a shallow lake, the area was drained and filled in to make way for the market—the market remains flood-prone to this day.

Within the dome. Photo taken in or around Phsar Thmei, Phnom Penh, Cambodia by Stuart McDonald.

Within the dome. Photo: Stuart McDonald

From above, it like a squat four-legged octopus, but the four legs of Phsar Thmei are said to represent the four rivers which meet in front of Phnom Penh—the Tonle Sap, the Bassac and the Upper and Lower Mekong. We were also told they are in honour of the four faces you can see on the statues at the Bayon, but we like the river ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 300 words.)

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