Images Of Cambodia & Angkor Wat - 2015 by Tom Dee

The associated text and images are from the holiday to Cambodia taken in November 2015 by club member Tom Dee, which was the subject of an article for the FIAP Newsletter of May 2021.

I had been interested in Angkor Wat and the Ancient Khmer Dynasties for a number of years and was fascinated by the temples and history of the area. I was also interested in the local people and their way of life. I did research into what temples I wanted to visit during my stay. With that in mind, when we arrived at the airport and got our taxi to the hotel I asked the driver did he know of a good Tuk Tuk Driver that I could use on the trips. I wanted to have the same driver every day to get to know him and also for him to have good knowledge of the areas surrounding Siem Reap and Tonle Sap. The taxi driver agreed and he said he would contact me the next day. He asked where I wanted to go the first day. I replied I wanted to see Ankgor Wat Temple at sunrise. I had seen beautiful images of the sunrise and wanted my take on it.

The next day I was up at 3.00 am for a collection at 3.30. It was then I met Visnea my Tuk Tuk driver who was already waiting and away we went. I have never seen so many people out so early in the morning. When Visnea dropped me off at the car park he said to me “When you cross the first causeway and head through the entrance go to the right hand side lake“. I asked why and he replied all the visitors will go left and you will be on your own. I found a good position and set my camera and tripod up and waited for the light.

Sunrise At Angkor Wat
Sunrise At Angkor Wat

After the sunrise image I walked into the complex on the right hand side. Again it was relatively quiet as most other visitors had gone left and central. The early morning sky was beautiful against the buildings and relics of the interior.

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Angkor Wat Interior
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Angkor Wat - The Library
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Angkor Wat Interior

There were local Cambodian people selling their wares around the halls and walkways. I would always ask for a photo and the lady in the next picture obliged. She gave me a wrist band and I kept it on until it fell off my wrist which was some months later. 

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All I Have In The World - Lady Of Angkor

Many religious people were present at the Temple. Buddhists and Christian. There was a Buddhist Pagoda at the complex for training young men. They would tour the site between lessons and prayers taking donations from the visitors. They survived from donations for food and clothing etc. 

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Angkor Wat Contemplation
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Young Buddhist Monk
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Its Written In The Scriptures

There was a troupe of Traditional Dancers performing on the top level of the complex near the Angkor Centre of the Universe. If you studied the movements of the dancers and looked at the sculptures on the walls of the Angkor you could relate to the moves and dances. The next image is one of the dancers set against the ancient sculptures on one of the walls. It is a composite image as I wanted to capture the old and new of Cambodia.

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Danca Shiva
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Angkor Wat Wall Sculptures

As I have said I like to research where I want to travel and see during my holiday. I had built up a good relationship with Visnea and we discussed the best places and times to visit certain Temples. I wanted to see a Temple called Beantay Srei which I had read about. I knew it was a good distance away from the hotel.

 

I also wanted to see a sunrise over rice fields as it was time of the year just past the Monsoon season and I knew that the fields were full of water. We will do the two visits on the same day Visnea said but it will need to be early again. He picked me up at 3.00 am and we set off. It will be an uncomfortable journey he said and he was right. Eventually we stopped, it was pitch black. “ We wait “  Visnea said for the sunrise. The day started to get lighter and I could see the channels in the rice fields. The colour came in the sky and the sun rose. It was an amazing sight. 

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Rice Fields Sunrise Cambodia
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Sunrise Cambodia

After the colour has dissipated we continued to Beantay Srei. I had chosen this Temple to visit as it was constructed from the most beautiful red and ochre materials. Visnea dropped me off at the car park and away I went to explore. It had been raining over night and the causeway was full of puddles of water. It was perfect for photography. But the downside was that I was bitten all over by mosquitos, the sacrifices you make for your hobby. The Temple did not disappoint and was all I expected it to be.

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The Causeway Beantay Srei
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Beantay Srai Main Entrance
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Grauda Guardians Of The Temple

I finished my tour of Beantay Srei and we headed back to Siem Reap. Visnea said there is another small temple on the way back do you want to see that. Beantay Samre is the Temple. I only spent 45 minutes at Beantay Samre but was taken by the structure details. The image I chose from this temple is a worshipping stone sited in the cross corridors of the Temple. The light was so beautiful as if the structure was purposely built to portray the light. 

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Beantay Samre - Stone Of Worship

I toured many more Temples in the time I was there.  The most striking was the Bayon which is adjacent to the Khmer Royal Palace. There were as historians state 54 faces on the Towers at the Bayon when it was built of which 39 remain. The next picture is one of the faces at the Bayon. 

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Face Of The Bayon

Apart from visiting the Temple complex I toured with my wife the outskirts of Siem Reap to witness how the Cambodian people lived. I visited Tonle Sap and the way of life along the lake and witnessed the houses on stilts built to allow for the rise and fall of the water levels during the monsoon season. 

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Tonle Sap - Houses On Stilts
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Tonle Sap - Fishing Boats

The Cambodian way of life is a very simple life. Living from the fruits of the land and water systems. vegetables, rice and fish are in abundance. We were taken to a crossroads market rear Tonle Sap and the market was full of people buying and selling produce. All produce was freshly harvested that morning and was a pleasure to witness. I walked through the market to take it all in before I took any pictures.

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Cambodian Market Lady
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The Face

I witnessed children playing on the streets with bikes that were far to big for them to handle but they were all so happy. I didn’t see an unhappy child during the time I was there. It brought back memories of my childhood playing with what you had and making the most of things. The last image is of a child in a catholic school at Tonle Sap. 

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Family So Happy Together
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A Child In Time

This concludes my discussion on my visit to Cambodia in 2015. I would definitely go back there as the place and people left a lasting impression on me  - when the world becomes a better place to travel.

 

Thank you - Tom Dee 2021