I was in the middle of my first solo fashion shoot at Angkor Wot with a very talented now friend Rany Som, Jewellery Designer from Siam Reap, when Derek above and his lovely lady Annie stopped to observe, and take a few cheeky snaps over my shoulder. Our conversation was short but sweet. I got to practice my French once more and they very kindly invited me to Antwerp, which is a city I’ve been wanting to go to for ages. Unfortunately when I tried to email them a copy of their photos it bounced back, so Derek and Annie, if you are reading this please email me at email@example.com so we can meet once more and have a longer more relaxing conversation next time!
As we sauntered down Phu Si mountain after sunset we passed a young buddhist monk and I greeted him and asked to make his portrait. He gracefully and tranquilly obliged. The more I look at this image, the more I like it. The look of serenity in his eyes, the calm poise of his lips and body and the sweeping colourful bright orange robe that adorns him…
One of the repeating patterns I see on my travels is the quest by myself and my fellow travellers to have “individual experiences”. Certainly there are folk out there who are happy to turn up, see and do what everyone else sees and does e.g. going tubing in Vang Vieng (we skipped this as it’s mainly just a massive piss up and doesn’t add anything to the relations with locals who’ve seen their small scenic town overrun by western youths getting smashed and crawling out of the river like zombies every day), Angkor Wot which is the national pride of Cambodia but is so overrun with tourists that some time spent in one of the smaller temples is much more likely to be spiritually enlightening and many more attractions such as sunset from Phu Si above. You could actually feel the simmering mild aggression of camera wielding tourists who will jab you in the ribs if it means getting that perfect shot! I have to say it takes away from the experience indeed so I decided instead to be friendly to those around me and capture the “scrum” aiming at yet another sunset!
As you enter the White Temple you pass through “hell” where you can see many hands reaching up towards the sky. One of the most entertaining parts of the visit was a man on a loud speaker repeatedly announcing “Please continue over the bridge and do not come back to hell!” in order to keep the oneway traffic flowing.