Time Out In Cambodia


Cambodia will always hold fond memories for me, in particular the warmth and sincerity of the Khmer people. In 2010, I decided that I had enough of work (for that moment) and opted for a time out. First stop was Malaysia. I have family there so this trip also acted as an opportunity to catch-up, especially with my Grandmother who recently had a stroke.

What initially was planned for around two weeks evolved to over a month. I met some wonderful people there who opened up their lives to me, including sharing their culture, music, food and especially their struggle to better themselves. All in all, I came back to Australia more appreciative of what I have and who I have around me. To the people who have shared, I have in turn launched a small humanitarian project which I’m currently sponsoring two girls, Sokhat Peng & Somdov Euon to go to school. My dream is to one day further evolve this to include more sponsorships and also hopefully to other parts of the world.

Discussing The Path To Enlightenment

Brother Monks

Royal Palace, Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA.

The Royal Palace compound is situated in the vicinity of Phnom Penh’s great learning institutions and monasteries. On any given day, there’ll be a sea of monks in their colourful saffron robes walking about. It’s like Wall Street, the energy and the pace. Amidst the hustle and bustle of it all, these two gentlemen found themselves in an oasis in Phnom Mondop  (a small artificial hill symbolising Mount Kailassa, topped by a shrine containing a large Buddha footprint) having a quiet discussion or perhaps getting away from it all. As I approached, they beckoned me over and we started a conversation on general travel, politics, geography, technology and even the weather. We talked for about half an hour.

Death Bed In S-21

Death bed in s-21

Tuol Svay Prey High School, Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA.

Formerly the Tuol Svay Prey high school, named after a royal ancestor of King Sihanouk, the five buildings of the complex were converted in 1975 into a prison and interrogation centre. The Khmer Rouge renamed the complex “Security Prison 21” (s-21) and construction began to adapt the prison to the inmates: the buildings were enclosed in electrified barbed wire, the classrooms converted into tiny prison and torture cells and all the windows were covered with iron bars and barbed wire to prevent prisoner escapes.

The bodies of 14 victims were discovered by the united front for the National Salvation of Kampuchea (UFNSK) on 7 Jan 1979. The corpses were unidentifiable due to its bad state of decomposition.

One of them was found on this bed.

The Tuk-Tuk Girls

The tuk-tuk girls

Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA.

A happy moment whilst waiting at the lights in Phnom Penh. It was a welcomed sight after visiting the infamous Tuol Sleng torture camp. Seeing the joyful and innocent smiles on these girls represented hope for this wonderful country.

Peddler And Family On The Way To The Night Market

Peddler and family on the way to the night market

Phsar Reatrey, Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA.

After a day of following monks around the streets of Phnom Penh, I was en route back to my guesthouse and was about to click the off button on my camera when I spotted this. I was amazed at how undisturbed  the man was, pulling his trolley along Preah Sisovath Boulevard, a major street along the Mekong River.

This image was shot from a tuk-tuk going the opposite way. The constant traffic of bicycles, cars, people and other tuk-tuks provided the perfect backdrop for a panning shot.

Lightning Storm Over Tonle Sap

Lightning Storm Over Tonle Sap

Tonle Sap Lake, Siem Reap, CAMBODIA.

I befriended some people who were working at the Temple Bar on Pub Street. It was still quite early and there weren’t many people around so we were able to strike up a conversation. I was then invited to join them later that evening to this place along the Tonle Sap lake after work.

By the time we got there, it was slowly getting darker and I witnessed this amazing lightning storm. No thunder. No rain. Just the sound of boats chugging past. There was an amazing sense of calmness and tranquility as the waves lapped gently against the pier and the breeze brushed against my face.

It was bliss.

Chantra

Chantra

Siem Reap, CAMBODIA.

Her name is Chantra. I had lunch at her village. Apparently I’m the first foreigner to visit her village so whilst her family was preparing lunch, curiosity got the better of her and she kept standing at the doorway looking at the stranger.

Lunch, Khmer Village Style

Curious

Curious

Siem Reap, CAMBODIA.

My tuk-tuk driver invited me to his place for lunch after seeing i enjoyed getting to know the real Cambodia. This is his son, playing peek-a-boo and waiting for lunch to be served. His family cooked up a feast.

Riding Shotgun On Bicycle

Riding Shotgun On Bicycle

Beng Mealea, Siem Reap, CAMBODIA.

Whilst on the way to Beng Mealea, a temple located about 40km east of the main Angkor circuit, our motorbike hit a nail. Decided to ditch the tuk-tuk for a motorbike instead to allow more freedom with the camera and also to experience the open road, Khmer style. About 20m down the road was a repair shed. As the tube was being replaced, a small crowd started appearing. I guess this is the local version of rubber-necking.

Fallen Block Of Beng Mealea

Fallen Blocks Of Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea, Siem Reap, CAMBODIA.

Located on the road less travelled, about 40 kms away from the main groups of temples are the ruins of Beng Mealea. Once a Hindu temple built similar to that of the famous Angkor Wat. Very few tourists frequent this place simply because of its distance and to most all they see are ruins. As for me, I got a chance to explore this place without busloads of people in the way.

Angkor Wat Dawn

Angkor Wat Dawn

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, CAMBODIA.

An Afternoon Dive

One Giant Leap

An afternoon dive

Angkor Wat, Siem Riep, CAMBODIA.

It was late afternoon and I was en route to Angkor Wat when I came across these bunch of kids just swimming and playing in the surrounding moat. The stone bridge leading towards the temple entrance also provided a perfect diving platform. A stylised sepia tonal layer was applied to this shot to dramatise the scene and to add some texture to this otherwise ‘flat’ lighting (daylight was still quite strong despite being late afternoon)

Temple Lady

Temple lady

Angkor Thom, Siem Riep, CAMBODIA.

She saw me approaching and beckoned me to come towards her whilst waving some joss sticks around. As I approached, she lit three and pointed towards a shrine. I guess she was trying to tell me to pray for good luck or something along those lines. For a small donation of USD $2 (for the joss sticks) she tied a red string around my arm.

Peace

Peace

Banteay Samre, Siem Riep, CAMBODIA.

Only one word can describe this…. Innocence.
These two girls were just sitting in front of one of the many temple doorways, playing and minding their own business. There were heaps of girls about their age outside the temple selling drinks, postcards and various souvenirs and for a moment I thought they were doing the same but they weren’t. Pointing at my camera I asked if i could take their picture and they started posing.

Let’s Play

Let's Play

Ta Som, Siem Reap, CAMBODIA.

Young Peddler

Young Peddler

Srah Srang, Siem Reap, CAMBODIA.

She was trying to sell me bangles, postcards and guidebooks. Told me she needed the money for school – how can you say no to that and what she was asking wasn’t much. Only USD $1. Anyway I asked her if I could take her photo instead and she could keep her merchandise.

Boy With Snake Floating In A Tub

Boy With Snake Floating On A Tub

Tonle Sap Lake, Siem Reap, CAMBODIA.

As I was nearing the floating community comprised of larger boats, this boy in a makeshift floating device came peddling by on a tub. As he drew closer I realised there was a snake around him. No further description required!

Floating Village People

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