I’ve just returned from a trip to Cambodia where I took part in the first annual Angkor Photo Workshop and then spent a few days of R&R in Siem Reap. I posted a few images during the trip (see 4 prior blog posts) – always with the promise of providing more information on Cambodia and my experience there. Well, I am finally beginning to make good on that promise. In the first of series of blogs about the trip . . .
On my last full day in Cambodia, a new friend and I headed for Kompong Khleang at 6am to photograph the villages that line the road to the Tonle Sap. Perhaps it was that it was our last day in Cambodia – perhaps it was that we were winding down after an intense (and rewarding) workshop – or perhaps it was that we just wanted to have fun and interact with the locals . . . whatever it was . . .this morning was a pure joy! As we walked through the villages, we talked to the locals – sometimes in two languages, neither of us understanding each other but both recognizing the goodwill in our hearts and our smiles and just “going with it”. We played with the children (and the puppies). We talked to village elders. We even visited an alligator farm (albeit because it was the only loo in the ‘hood).
The villages in Kompong Khleang Province are traditional stilted villages that rise above the shores of the Tonle Sap. Villagers make their living from the waters and ecosystems of the lake. In the drier seasons, the villages are accessible by car. But once the rains come, the Tonle Sap waters rise by several meters and often the villages can be reached only by boat.
I’ve visited the villages in this province three times now – the people here are among the kindest, most welcoming I have met. They wave at you as pass you by and often beckon to you to join them on their porch or invite you into their home. The children (and some of the adults) mug for the camera, sometimes jostling each other for the “front spot” – or assume their “solemn look” to have their pictures made. But more than anything else, they make you feel welcome. I hope to have the opportunity to meet them again.
Below are some images made that morning . . . and some of my favorite memories of Cambodia.