Archives: January 2011
Eight images from around the Orussei Market in Black and White. All shot with a Nikon D700 & 50mm f1.4 lens combo:
Finally after about seven months of living in Cambodia, we took a long weekend trip up to Siem Reap to visit the Angkor Wat temple complex. I’ve edited down the many hundreds of photos to what I think are the top 5 images from the trip. There are many, many more images that I would have loved to include, but then I would have too many images! Angkor Wat is a place for photographers as there are opportunities for amazing photos everywhere.
There is one image from Angkor Wat, three images from Ta Prohm and one from Bayon. These are the main three temples to visit at Angkor Wat. I did visit a few smaller temples and they were just as impressive in their structure and with the trees and undergrowth intertwined with the stone.
The set of 5 images are available as framed prints, canvas art from our redbubble store. They would make a great feature on your wall at home.
The Cambodia Water Festival or ‘Bon Om Tuk’ in Khmer is the largest festival in the Cambodian calendar. The 3-day Water Festival in Phnom Penh celebrates the end of the rainy season and coincides with the flow of the Tonle Sap river changing direction.
The highlight of the Water Festival are the boat races, where highly decorated boats from each village race over the three days. Thousand of Khmers descend on Phnom Penh to watch the races from the shore and cheer on their villages boat, which can have up to 80 oarsmen/women as they race down the Tonle Sap.
During this time Phnom Penh takes on a carnival atmosphere, and as well as the river banks being lined with exuberant spectators there are also live concerts, hundreds of food stands, games of chance, fair rides, and at night fireworks light up the sky and people dance in the street.
This year however, the Water Festival ended with tragedy when a stampede on the Koh Pich bridge left approximately 350 people dead and a similar number injured. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/23/cambodia-water-festival-phnom-penh). Our prayers and concern are with those who lost friends and family during this awful event.
Here are some street photography shots from the city of Hanoi. We were there when they were celebrating the 1,000th year anniversary of the city. It was a fun time to visit, but very very crowded !
On our very brief visit to Vietnam we visited Sapa located in the northwest. We took the overnight train from Hanoi (approx 9 hours) there and back. We spent the day exploring the town of Sapa and walking to the nearby village of Cat Cat. Here are some pictures and interesting information regarding the area and the people living here. It’s a very beautiful place with very friendly people.
Sapa is a frontier town and capital of Sa Pa District in the Lào Cai province in northwest Vietnam. It is one of the main market towns in the area, where many ethnic minority groups such as H’mong, Dao and Tay live. (source: wikipedia)
Vietnam is a multi-nationality country. It has 54 ethnic groups with about 86 million people. The Viet (Kinh) people account for 88% of the country’s population and mainly inhabit the Red River delta, the central coastal delta, the Mekong delta and major cities. The other 53 ethnic minority groups, totalling over 8 million people, are scattered over mountain areas (covering two-thirds of the country’s territory) spreading from the North to the South.
Among ethnic minorities, the most populated are Tay, Thai, Muong, Hoa, Khmer, Nung with a population of around 1 million each, while the least populated are Brau, Ro Mam, O Du with several hundred people each. (source: voyagevietnam)
The main stadium in Phnom Penh, it has a seating capacity of 50,000 and built in 1964. During the reign of the Khmer Rouge, the stadium was used as a site for executions by officials under the administration of Lon Nol.
These days, the stadium and surrounding grounds are a popular place for morning and afternoon aerobics, lead by instructors. The parking lots provide room for hundreds of young khmers to have chaotic bare-foot soccer matches. Other facilities include an Olympic sized swimming pool and indoor volleyball court, another popular sport in Cambodia.
Here is a pretty interesting anecdote about the Phnom Penh National Olympic Stadium, involving Australia:
The stadium played a small part in the 1966 FIFA World Cup. Unexpectedly, North Korea faced Australia in a qualifier. Because North Korea lacked diplomatic relations with most countries, finding a suitable venue for the match proved difficult, until Head of State Norodom Sihanouk, an ally of Kim Il-sung, said the matches could be held in Phnom Penh. The matches attracted 40,000 fans, with Sihounouk decreeing half would cheer for Australia, while the other half cheered the Koreans. The matches were held on 21 November 1965 and on 24 November 1965 with North Korea winning both (6–1 and 3–1). Because South Korea and all African teams had withdrawn in protests against FIFA, North Korea were thus directly qualified to the final tournament, where they reached the quarter-final. – Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phnom_Penh_National_Olympic_Stadium
Below is an image of a single person sitting on the stadium seats:
So the rainy season has been a bit late this year, but last Friday Phnom Penh experienced several hours of heavy rain which caused many parts of the city to be flooded. In some spots, the depth of the water on the roads was between 30cm and 60cm.
The rainy season in Cambodia is generally from May to October and they remainder of the year is the dry season. Generally the rain hits between 2pm and 3pm and lasts for an hour or so but it can rain for up to a week at a time.
The rains flood the streets of Phnom Penh mainly due to the drainage system in Phnom Penh not being able to cope with such large amounts of water. Although in recent years, there has been much speculation that the filling in of Beoung Kak Lake with sand to make way for new developments, has added to the cause of flooding as the water has no where to drain. (see article in Phnom Penh Post)
Travelling out in the provinces can be a bit of a struggle during the rainy season as dirt roads are often flooded and inaccessible but the main highways should not be a problem. It can be a great time to see Cambodia is it is the low season for tourists and the rains create a lush, green and beautiful countryside.
Some tips for when it’s raining and the streets flood.
- Wear sandals – generally its too hot to wear closed shoes so you would be wearing sandals / flip flops anyway, but it if you’re going to be walking in the water, they will dry out quickly.
- 50 cent ponchos – these bright coloured plastic ponchos are a cheap and relatively effective way to stay dry. They can be found at street stalls and markets.
- If you’re living in Phnom Penh for a medium to long term, find out if your street floods and if the water recedes quickly. If you are in an area prone to flooding, it would be best if you live on the first floor or higher rather than the ground floor.
- Be patience and wait indoors. Often there is a bit of warning before it rains, so if you are going out, plan to bring an umbrella, poncho for traveling and when it does rain, enjoy the many restaurants and cafes Phnom Penh has to offer.
Here are a couple of photo’s from the other day near the Royal Palace and Street 178.
This is an update to the first post relating to eating out in Phnom Penh which can be found here.
Brown Coffee and Bakery – 5/5
Fantastic modern coffee shop with excellent coffee and pastries at reasonable prices. Set in a very elegant and stylish setting, you’ll be able to relax with freshly baked pastries, cakes and great coffee. http://thebrowncoffee.com/
Khmer Kitchen – 3.5/5
Popular Khmer restaurant with very reasonable prices. Wide selection of dishes and set in a nice cool garden setting. There is also an upstairs eating area where you dine by sitting on the floor at low tables. The food we have experience has been a bit hit and miss, but on the whole a great restaurant.
Magnolia – 5/5
Vietnamese restaurant with a huge variety (Fish, squid, eel, frog, chicken, beef, and pork) of delicious dishes and drinks. Set in an old school building where you can dine in a spacious outdoor garden setting or on the balcony, it’s tastefully (pun intended) decorated and the food is great value for money. Magnolia has top class service and food at Khmer prices. Our favourite are the Vietnamese pancakes for $3.
Le Rit’s – 4.5/5
Run by an NGO called Nyemo, this is a great shop/guesthouse/restaurant all in one. Offers Asian and European dishes set in a beautiful old colonial house with a peaceful garden. A great dining experience and supporting the work of the NGO. http://www.business.nyemo.com/
Kep is a sleeping seaside town in South West Cambodia. During 1900 to 1960, the town of Kep was a popular resort destination for the French and Cambodian elite. It is well known for it’s seafood, especially crab and arguably has the best seafood in all of Cambodia. The town has many ruined and abandoned French colonial mansions and villas as many were destroyed by the Khmer Rouge during the 1970′s.
The above picture is of a father and son on their fishing boat, sailing in the Gulf of Thailand just off the shore in Kep.
More images can be viewed in the Landscape and Travel portfolio
Recently I had the opportunity to travel down to Kampot which is in the south of Cambodia, near the sea. Kampot is set on the Kampong Bay River at the base of the Elephant Mountains. It’s a laid back, small & sleepy town with classic French colonial architecture.
I stayed at two places. The hip and happening Bodhi Villa guest house located right on the river which is a great spot for backpackers. It’s very chilled and has a range of watersport activities and floating bungalows. The other place was in town at the Blissful guesthouse. Good food and friendly staff. The image above is the sunrise from Bodhi Villa. Hello 5.00 am !
A had a visit to Epic Arts which is a great organisation “that organise and run visual art, drama, dance and music projects for people with disabilities in the UK, Cambodia and other international locations. Our projects celebrate the creative potential of those with whom we work, by offering new skills and giving each participant an outlet for their creative expression. Epic Arts works with the philosophy that Every Person Counts (EPiC).” (Source: Epic Arts website)
Cycling around the countryside I was able to meet the friendly locals. There are a variety of farms – rice (still the hot season so no rice growing), salt and pepper. The area is really flat aside from the Elephant mountains and at the moment quite dry, although that will change in 1 month or so with the wet season. The salt farms produce salt from the irrigated sea water and the workers carry the salt back and forth from the farm to great tin store buildings. Working under the intense sun and heat for 10 or more hours a day, they earn as much as $2 a day.
I took a range of other photo’s on a trip to visit some caves and a pepper farm. All in all, a very enjoyable weekend trip. For a collection of more images, please view the Landscape and Travel portfolio.
Above: Old lady siting outside her house, enjoying the cooler evening and watching what’s going on.
Below: Old abandoned building in Kampot.
Ablove: Salt farmer gathering salt in Kampot.
Below: Phnom Chhnork – Cave #1 Pre-Angkorian ruin set in a limestone cave amongst stalagmites and stalactites that are slowly growing back into the ruin. Small, 4th-5th century AD brick structure associated with the ancient state of Funan.
Above image is the Independence Monument (click for larger view)
Above image is of block of flats near the riverside (click for larger view)
Above image is of the Tonle Sap river taken from the Monivong Bridge (click for larger view)
Above image is of the architecture of a nearby Wat
So after a week in Phnom Penh we have seen only a little bit of the city, but what we have seen so far has just been great.
We were able to go on an evening boat cruise along the Tonle Sap river which was a beautiful evening, even when it started bucketing down. It’s the end of the dry season and soon we’ll be heading into the wet season so there will be a lot more storms and rain.
We’ve eaten out at so many great restaurants, shopped at lots of markets and started Khmer language lessons.
Below are some photos from the city of Phnom Penh … enjoy !
Foreign Correspondence Club Phnom Penh
Tonle Sap River
Spices at the market
Another Phnom Penh street
Sunset from our hotel