The Sockeyed Blog

Ben Johnson's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Siem Reap

Almost Done

leave a comment »

Sadly my trip is winding down, but it will be nice to get home again despite the ridiculous weather in Vancouver. I’ve got one more night in Siem Reap, then tomorrow evening I fly to Bangkok. My flight to Vancouver leaves early the next morning, so I have to decide whether to just doze in the airport or head into Bangkok for a look around. It will be Friday night, after all, so things will be lively.

Cambodia continues to be interesting. Yesterday we made a trip to Tonle Sap, an enormous lake south of Siem Reap. We visited a pair of villages which are based on the seasonal growth and retreat of the lake. Some villages are floating and move around; others are built on stilts over the water. We strolled through one of the stilt houses. It was as poor as anything I’ve seen in India. The houses are small wood and thatch shacks, and people seem to eek out a pretty marginal existence, based largely on fishing. Many are Vietnamese who come up the Mekong to Tonle Sap, recognizable by their conical hats and different boats.

Tonlé Sap

We’ve been back to Angkor several times as well. We’ve managed to visit several temples in quieter times, like the Bayon last night at sunset. This is the temple with the placid Buddha faces carved on the cardinal faces of the many towers. Angkor Wat itself never seems to be quiet.

The Photo Festival has been inspirational each night. Last night, the focus was on South Asia, with a series of slide shows by particular photographers or agencies. The previous night was Korea, and the highlight was a brilliant documentary called “The Game of Their Lives” about two North Korean girls participating in the mass games: thousands of gymnasts and dancers performing revolutionary spectaculars for the Generalissimo and the people. I’m going to try and get a copy when I get back to town.


Last night we saw an apsara dance performance. It was a touristy event – a buffet crammed full of Korean and European tourists, but the dancing itself was lovely. It’s derived from Indian classical dance and features slow, graceful movements and elegant symbolic hand gestures. The costumes are very beautiful too.

Today was a bit of slower day. We just did some shopping, ate, napped and emailed. Tonight’s festival program is very full – probably about 20 or more short slide presentations. There is also the final awards for a photo contest for an Angkor Photography Festival photo contest that was run over the last couple of months. Jeremy is actually one of the finalists, with an image in the top 100. His is a great image from Xian of a guard at the terracotta warriors site:

So, tonight in Siem Reap, tomorrow in Bangkok, and Saturday in Vancouver in the snow. The mind boggles.

Written by sockeyed

November 30, 2006 at 08:20

Siem Reap

leave a comment »

We’ve arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I had a pretty uneventful journey across Sabah and Sarawak to Kuala Lumpur, where I spent the night in a basic hotel by the airport. Jeremy and I met up in the airport this morning and flew to Siem Reap in 2 hours. Since arriving, we’ve strolled the town. It’s interesting to be in a place where we’re flat out ignored. Well, not completely – we’re offered tuk-tuk rides constantly and seen as possible sources of revenue, but we’re not novelty items (well, Jeremy wasn’t in Malaysia either). No more kids running after me to have their picture taken, or shouting “hello!”. They would quickly succumb to exhaustion if they did given the number of tourists here. The construction of new hotels is crazy, targeting tourist from all over the world. There seems to be a large Korean interest in the place as suggested by the number of Korean restaurants, signs and tour buses.

Early tomorrow morning we’ll head to Angkor, probably hiring a couple of motos and drivers to take us there. At $5 a day, it’s a reasonable investment. We’ll try to get a very early start to catch the sunrise, come back in the heat of the day, and maybe head out again for the sunset. The first event for the Angkor Photography Festival is tomorrow night, and we have our passes and are excited to go and see the presentations by world-class photographers.

Written by sockeyed

November 24, 2006 at 08:56

Posted in Photography, Travel

Tagged with , ,