Docking at Phnom Penh along the Mekong, we climb a long stairway to waiting tuk tuks. These motorbike-rickshaws take us along boulevard parkways dotted with statues of Asian luminaries and jungle wildlife. Zipping between bustling shops, glass high-rises and sprawling temples, we arrive at the King’s palace compound.
Near the entrance, a gnarly tree dangles saucer-sized red and yellow flowers and big brown spheres from thick branches. “That’s a cannonball tree,” grins local guide Tri. “Lord Buddha was born under such a tree. As 97 per cent of us are Buddhists, it’s highly sacred.”