Cambodia After Thought  

9 days in Cambodia was an absurdly short trip, what I could grasp was merely a tip of the iceberg. I could firmly and confidently arrive at a conclusion that this once glorious Khmer Empire is 'huge' and 'poor' in her modern age. I had read enough about the Kingdom of Cambodia and seen plentiful pictures of Angkor Wat and other surrounding temples, yet I was still amazed by their actual scale, which is many times over what had been depicted in the favorite-of-all Tomb Raider movie; and was feeling poignant over the poverty level of the country, which is in actual fact so much higher than I imagined.

Take a look at the map of the temples to get a feel of the immensity of the temples. With a myriad of temples that spread across a radius of 30km, it can take you a few days, or up to weeks to visit them all, depending on how in-depth you want the visit to be. If you are a photo enthusiast, you may find yourself revisiting the same place several times for the sake of having different lighting which casts impressive colors on the massive architectures and their fine carvings. The daily sunrise and sunset can easily attract thousands of visitors to Angkor Wat and Phnom Bakheng at the same time. The visual impact of these temples of God is simply awesome.

Although the sight was breathtaking, my photo expedition to the temples wasn't that satisfying due to cloudy white skies dominating the temples. At times, when I was trailing the sunset at Angkor Wat, I could see many serious photogs dispersed in disappointment over the less-than-inspiring view before darkness befell. Beautiful blue sky in Angkor Archaeology Park requires much patience and good luck to anticipate for; year end or probably the rainy season may bring you great surprises in photo shooting instead.

One could easily witness poverty in every corner of Cambodia. Landmine victims begging for donations; and children with local crafts and books on both hands follow wherever visitors go. To my surprise, these children are well-versed in English, and they were conversing with visitors to practice the language more. Apparently the dollar they earn goes into their school fees, so if they do not earn it today, they will not be able to attend class the next day. If you bid farewell to them without buying anything, you may well get a response in the form of the popular phrase: 'Sir, no buy no bye'.

We had 6 in our group, where 2 departed to Vietnam on day 6 of the journey. Out of the six, I am the only photography freak. I originally requested for 3 sunrises and 3 sunsets but the group strongly rejected, so in the end I was merely accorded with 1 sunrise and 2 sunsets, poor me. The following pages contain some travel notes I scribbled during the journey, with no intention to elaborate much on the places I visited, as my photos are self-explanatory, in colors. Who says Cambodia only looks good in black and white?

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