These jump around from the beautiful to the heartbreaking… but that’s Cambodia in a nutshell.

A is for... Angkor Wat
A is for… Angkor Wat. The easiest letter to choose. I think that it might be the only thing in Cambodia that begins with A… Still, went there for sunrise and it was beautiful. Too many crowds though, so was forced to take shots at weird angles.

 

B is for... Bayon
B is for… Bayon. A temple full of personality thanks to all those happy faces staring out at you.

 

C is for... Catch me if you can
C is for… Catch me if you can. Sunday evening in Phnom Penh is pigeon chasing time. No, really – everyone seemed to be doing it. People of all ages threw what looked like unpopped pop corn down, then running into the sea of birds.

 

D is for... Donations
D is for… Donations. We passed by this line of monks standing beside a roundaobut. Our driver said that if we wanted to donate, we had to give the same amount to each monk (there were seven). This lead to some frantic change counting at the side of the road, and the suggestion of asking the monks themselves for change… As you can see, this head monk was well thrilled with our offering.

 

E is for... Ennui
E is for… Ennui. Phnom Penh is seemingly a rubbish place to be a youth. I know kids sit on benches in cities around the world, but the open space ahead of them and the two old men shufflinf around seem to sum up how bored they must be.

 

F is for... Fisherman
F is for… Fisherman. GREAT hat, probably radioactive fish. I hope they threw them back – not an animal rights thing, you’d just get seriously sick eating anything that came out of this river.

 

G is for... Glue
G is for… Glue. This is a desperately sad photo. Along the riverside there are people happily playing games whilst homeless kids meander like zombies sniffing glue from plastic bags. I saw this boy chatting to this stall owner. She suddenly gave chase and he ran off. She rang the police who came to investigate, chased him a short way and then gave up. A lot is being done for the poor of Cambodia but it seems that it isn’t nearly enough.

 

H is for... Helping hand
H is for… Helping hand. In the same stretch of riverside, this provided a more hope-inspiring scene of kids by the riverside.

 

I is for... Indiana Jones
I is for… Indiana Jones. Wondering around the temples of Angkor, you can go ahead and pick up thousand year old pieces of architecture. You’ll be glad to know that the bag of dirt that I replaced this piece of column with prevented the giant ball from being released…

 

J is for... Jigsaw
J is for… Jigsaw. Be honest, you’d like to have a go, right?!

 

K is for... Killing Fields
K is for… Killing fields. For those that don’t know, a brutal communist regime called the Khmer Rouge orchestrated the genocide of an estimated 2 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979. The killing fields at Choeung Ek are a harrowing place to visit. The memory of the horrors are laid bare. At the sites of particular horror, visitors have started hanging friendship bracelets.

 

L is for... Lara Croft in training
L is for… Lara Croft in training. Look at her go!

 

M is for... Monkey
M is for… Monkey. Strutting his stuff around Angkor Wat.

 

N is for... No heads
N is for… No heads. The temples have fallen into various states of ruin, but several of the statues seem to have had their heads deliberately removed throughout various periods of war. Sad that such beautiful statues would be defaced in this way… (pun definitely intended).

 

O is for... Onboard a tuktuk
O is for… Onboard a tuktuk. Nippy little auto-rickshaws are the transport choice of travellers in SE Asia. Awesome fun!

 

P is for... Penises
P is for… Penises. The linga is a symbol of the Hindu deity Shiva. It is also, as commented on by an Italian lady, “un simbolo fallico”. At Kbal Spean, there are a thousand of them that get covered by the rising water during rainy season. Here they can be seen in all their glory…

 

Q is for... Quizzical
Q is for… Quizzical. This dude seemed uncertain why I was so keen to photograph him. I’m not sure I’d be able to offer an reasons, even if I could speak horse…

 

R is for... Ruins
R is for… Ruins. Some of the temples are in some state of ruination. This just adds to their mystery and adventure – I truly felt like Harrison Jolie/Indiana Croft as I scrambled over piles of temple rubble.

 

S is for... S21
S is for… S21. Tuol Sleng (nicknamed S21) is a former school that the Khmer Rouge converted into a prison. It seems the prime function was to discretely torture ‘undesirables’ until they confessed to a crime tehy never commited, to then justify transporting them to the Killing Fields. Truly chilling to walk through the classrooms-come-cells and see photos of those unfrotunate people who ended up here.

 

T is for... Ta Prohm
T is for… Ta Prohm. Easily the best temple. Ta Prohm featured in the Tomb Raider film (apparently…) and is an amazing showcase for the power of nature. Essentially, no matter how grand your temple (your palace, your skyscraper…), given enough time, nature will grow a massive tree through the middle of it. It’s dramatic to stand in front of, on the same scale as standing on a glacier. The growth of the tree/movement of the glacier has monumental power that moves an almost infinitesimal speed.

 

U is for... Undiscovered Treasures
U is for… Undiscovered treasures. Ammazing carvings lie higgledy-piggeldy amoungst the ruins. There’s no telling what undiscovered treasures (of the cultural, rather than piratical nature) lie underneath the huge piles of ruined buildings.

 

V is for... Vine
V is for… Vine. Well, okay it’s a branch. I just wanted to put this photo in…

 

W is for... Waterballoon
W is for… Water balloon. We stopped to watch a woman making palm-sugar sweets by the side of the road. She then got up to serve someone from her stall, and her daughter came to take over the production line. You can see her water balloon, which she playfully threatened us with, in the background.

 

X is for... Xenophobia
X is for… Xenophobia. I am a tolerant and patient man. These qualities were tested to near breaking point by the busloads of Chinese and Korean tourists who had descended on Angkor whilst I was there (note to self: Chinese New Year is a bad tiem to travel in SE Asia). It became an artform to try and hide these tourists behind elements such as columns when taking photos of the temples. Eventually, I had to give in and just start taking photos of their photos. This is easily my favourite… What a pose!

 

Y is for... Yours Truly
Y is for… Yours Truly. After all, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

 

Z is for... Zoom
Z is for… Zoom! Okay, so that’s a weak ending, but Z is a hard letter! I have been trying to perfect the technique of panning the camera at the same speed as a passing vehicle in order to keep it in focus and blur the background. I’ll keep practising…!
This doesn't have to be goodbye

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