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Cambodia November – December 2016 (12 photos)

——— The last post for 2016 ———

To the door of the sun

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To the ends of the sea

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I will travel anywhere

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As long as you are there with me

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On the wings of the wind

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In the arms of a storm

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It is always summer weather

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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.

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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.

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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.

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*See the bullet hole? Read the notes below for more information about individual photos…

Photograph Notes:

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.

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Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

To the Door of the Sun

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99 thoughts on “To the Door of the Sun

  1. Very beautifully done all round. Such a variety of shots, and this seems to be only a teaser and appetiser of what’s to come in your next posts 😉 The image of the children on the boat to school sans parents is my favourite out of the lot. They seem so happy and carefree, and seeing you looks to be the highlight of their day – great way to start the day 🙂 Looking forward to your stories and shots from Cambodia.

    • Thank you. I’m not sure if I made those children’s day, but they made mine. I guess living on the water, they become waterwise very quickly.
      The people of Cambodia are generally very friendly. It’s a great place to visit.

    • Thank you. I don’t need a butler, but I do occasionally need a sidekick. You know, someone to get me out of trouble at the last minute every now and then, provide occasional comedic relief, battle the bad guys, and take an occasional bullet for me. 😉

  2. So glad you are back, Dragon. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of this beautiful part of the country. Looking forward for more.
    Happy Holidays and Happy 2017. 🙂

  3. A fantastic series, LD. Beautifully shot. SE Asia was one of my favorite trips and a wonder to photograph. Smart to use a guide and avoid groups. Looking forward to more– I bet you have a few more monks and temples. 🙂 Happy Holidays!

  4. Not a country I am ever likely to visit so I am happy to do so through your photos. Love the statuary and the smiling faces of the mother and those boat children! And so far not a mobile phone in sight!

  5. I love the temples and that ancient architecture and history, but I love even more the smiles you’ve captured 🙂 fascinating photos, Lignum!!
    how did you decide to go on this adventure? did you plan it long?

    • Thank you, Alex. The people make the difference, as always.

      I guess the idea to go has been in my head for a while, and I received some encouragement from a professional photographer which made me put things into actual planning. It took a few months to plan. November to January is peak tourist season in Cambodia and because I was going for so long, I needed to organise the hotel and guide early.

  6. Sounds like you had a fantastic experience in the Siem Reap area. Your photos bring back fond memories of time spent running through the temple ruins, gazing at those enigmatic stone faces, taking in an entirely different world whose ghosts still linger. It was a new horizon for me as well to see this part of the world. Looking forward to more of your Cambodia perspective in the new year.

    • Thank you very much. I’m glad my photos could bring back such vivid memories for you. I only wish I had more time to visit other areas of Cambodia. A reason to visit again.

      Merry Christmas to you.

  7. Oh how I thoroughly enjoyed this eloquent expression of Cambodia, Draco. Each photo said so much about the past or present or future, from the ancient temples to the mine sign. And every face told a story. Reading that you learned a few words and travelled to lesser-known places with a guide certainly added to the depth of your adventure. I studied each photo as if it was a painting, and while I really liked every single one, the one my heart leaped for was the boisterous school children in the boats. I hope your new year is filled with meaningful adventures, thank you for sharing them here, Draco.

    • Thank you very much, Jet. Those school children in the boats made my day. They started waving at me. I took 2 quick shots then spent a lot longer just waving and smiling back. My guide and I were the only ones on the boat, along with the skipper.

      I like to learn a few words no matter where I go, I think it adds to the experience. Most people laughed or smiled in surprise when I said a few words in Cambodian to them. By contrast, the landmine situation is depressing but progress is being made in clearing them.

  8. Great shots and a wonderful trip I am sure! The smiles are contageous and I look so much forward to more from you and Cambodia! Happy New Year!

  9. LB says:

    What an incredible experience! I’ve got friends who did a similar type tour through Vietnam. They, too, shared photos of the minefields. Sobering.
    That image of the tree roots taking over the temple is incredible.
    I’ll look forward to more photos in the new year!

    • Thank you kindly. It’s fascinating that these monuments could have been lost for so long, only to be found “recently”.

      And the horrors of the recent history of Cambodia is terrible to contemplate. Even in a moment of peace, they are still troubled by the scourge of landmines.

      I’m glad I eventually decided on hiring my own guide privately. It was a great travel experience and it put money directly into the hands of an individual who needs it. The peak travel season in Cambodia is only a few months. In the off peak season, an experienced guide may not have work for many weeks.

  10. One thing I can say about Cambodia, and I’ve only seen this country through photographs, is that its people are are beautiful as the landscape. Your pictures make them shine. I so enjoyed your shots!

  11. Looking forward to what’s to come. Seems I’m just about in time, Draco 🙂 My favourite is the smiling faces of the youngsters in the boats. Makes me happy just to look.

  12. magnifica avventura! ben scelto il modo di viaggiare…le immagini sono così vivvide e lucenti che si resta senza parole!
    La prima immagine resta negli occhi e nel cuore facendolo vibrare di Bellezza
    non ho che da ringraziarti per tutto questa magnificenza!
    Annalisa

  13. Amazing and beautiful photos. That had to be a fantastic trip. I do believe that your second photo of the stilted and floating village looks exactly like the place used in scenes from a Jackie Chan movie “Skiptrace!” 🙂

  14. Wow, stunning photos!!! Oh, but yours always are anyway!! I could instantly see you’ve been travelling, and I have a lot to catch up on!

    Love the first water picture, such stunning silhouette reflections!! And the children going to school in boats… amazing! Kind of makes it laughable that we worry so much about our children in the UK and other countries, where most things are very safe most of the time. Would we allow our children to go by boat to school? I think there would be an outrage if it was even suggested! 😀

    • Thank you very much, Suzy.

      It seems children grow up much faster in some parts of the world, by necessity. None of those boats had adults in them and only one child wore a life vest. You’re right, social groups and lawmakers would come down pretty hard on any adult that allowed their child to go unsupervised on a boat.

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