Cambodia November – December 2016 (12 photos)
——— The last post for 2016 ———
To the door of the sun
To the ends of the sea
I will travel anywhere
As long as you are there with me
On the wings of the wind
In the arms of a storm
It is always summer weather
With your love to keep me warm
… “To the door of the sun” was a 1975 single and album release by Al Martino (born Jasper Cini). He had his greatest success as a singer between the early 1950s and mid-1970s, being described as “one of the great Italian American pop crooners”, and he also became known as an actor, particularly for his role as singer Johnny Fontane in The Godfather.
By now you will realise that I have recently returned from the Kingdom of Cambodia. I spent 10 days and 9 nights exploring the northwestern region of the country, using Siem Reap as my base. For this trip I hired a professional guide who was able to accompany me around the countryside. This was a great way to travel. I could tour temples according to my own timetable and preferences and receive expert information from a local along the way, without being held back by a group. I could go to more remote temple locations that most tourists are unable to visit, often taking the time to travel along backroads through tiny villages that only locals know about. Via my guide, I could talk to locals and get photographs not otherwise possible. I was even invited into a villager’s hut/home for food.
Over at the Weekly Photo challenge, the topic is New Horizon. We are asked to think ahead and show our work in a representative photo. The goal is to get out of the busy “now,” and imagine your new horizon. Travelling Cambodia was my new horizon and don’t be surprised that my first few posts next year will be about Cambodia.
*See the bullet hole? Read the notes below for more information about individual photos…
1 Angkor Wat photographed in the blue hour light before the dawn.
2 Young boy rowing his boat at the combined stilted and floating village of Kampong Kleang.
3 Land mine clearance sign at the temple of Beng Mealea. Land mines are the legacy of three decades of war which has taken a severe toll on the Cambodians; it has some 40,000 amputees. In 2014, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) estimated that there may still be as many as four to six million mines and other pieces of unexploded ordnance in Cambodia. The statistics of landmine incidents in the first half of the year 2016, was 20 deaths and 29 non-fatal injuries.
4 A Buddhist Monk in contemplation at the remote temple of Prasat Preah Vihear, at the top of a 525 metre high cliff along the northern border of Cambodia with Thailand. Despite two previous International Court of Justice rulings, and UNESCO listing, Thailand claims this temple as their own and their “security force” outposts could clearly be seen on hilltops around this temple.
5 Nature reclaiming a temple at Prasat Pram.
6 A well preserved carving of the Hindu God Vishnu, with numerous arms at a collapsed temple at the western border of Cambodia with Thailand. As I signed the foreign visitors book, I noted the previous 2 visitors were from the UK, 2 days earlier. The remote temples of Cambodia are a great way to get away from the tourist hordes at Angkor Wat and to see the countryside.
7 Children going to school via boats at the stilted and floating village of Kampong Kleang. Each canoe had 4 children and no adult onboard. The boy waving in the background was the only one with a life vest.
8 A woman taking a break from work to look after her daughter. Crews from local villages are employed to remove small weeds and new plant growth at many of the temple sites. All work is done by hand. Chemicals that may damage the ancient temples cannot be used.
9 Two of the serene but enigmatic faces on one of the towers at the iconic Prasat Bayon.
10 A farmer and his cattle-drawn cart in a small village near Tonle Sap Lake. I was taught 5 words in the Khmer language. That was enough to convert a stare from most villagers into a laugh or a smile.
11 Carving of an Apsara, a female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Please note the bullet hole in the base of her neck. Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge used many of the ancient temples of Cambodia as hiding places and battlegrounds.
12 Workers in transit on a pot-hole strewn dirt road somewhere in the Cambodian countryside.