Photo Journal of the Cambodian Crusader in Siem Reap.

I remember visiting this outrageously beautiful and serene landscape almost 7 years ago. The land of mystical wonders. Then, I had wasn’t armed with any equipment. In fact, working behind the lens as a photographer wasn’t something I thought I’d love doing. I was in front of the camera modeling on site throughout Siem Reap for four days with Photographer Mindy Tan. Now whom I consider a close friend after all these years. Here are 3 shots taken by her. They are still some of my favorites.

Now as explore with a new-found fascination, I stumbled upon many familiar but many more undiscovered parts of the temples of Siem Reap. With thousands of little temples scattered all over the city, it is true that with every visit, there is surely something to new to see, and Boy was my eyes in ecstasy! 

The early sunrise view of Angkor Wat 6 am was covered in fog but I managed to steal this shot inside the grounds.

For a small donation they will dance for you.

A fancy Buddha statue with make up that made me smile.

At this angle, the crack on the wall makes the glow above this alter a candle.

The 78-year-old nun who blessed my string bracelet. She relies on donations like mine, to feed the monks at the temples.

The girl who thought I was fascinating.

Throughout my experiences, little children selling handicrafts and trinkets is not uncommon. The shoeless adorable little humans always tugs at my heart. One said to me, ‘Buy my bracelet, you don’t buy I cry” and he burst into tears. I know they are well rehearsed in techniques such as these and often speak several languages to entice the tourists. In the beginning I would empty my pockets for them. But over time I’ve realized by doing so, I am encouraging them to work and indirectly a cause and effect of them not attending school. In so many words, I believe its child labour and I would not be part in any of that. Now I tuck away a bag of sweets and balloons in my camera bag. When they huddle around me begging, I hand them a hand full of sweets each and take out my balloons. 

“If you want a balloon you have to go to school.”

 I would twist the balloons into flowers and teddy bears for the girls and a long sword for the boys. Watching the kids face light up and smile through the tears is something that is etched in memory. It reminds me that the kid could have easily been me, I was fortunately to be born in Australia. My mother is born in Saigon, and watching the children here tells me my mother’s generation in Vietnam would not have been any different as she started working at age 11 to support the family.

Forging on, while exploring further, I found my own kind!

I took almost 30 shots of this family of monkeys just relaxing and being monkeys. One even came and pulled on my leg hairs to groom me!

Another little creature that made me smile.

I took so many shots of this little guy, perhaps one day he will get his own album.

I hiked away from the tourist trail into the forests only to find some extraordinary places hidden from view. My own little secret escape. I couldn’t decide of the following two images which I liked more so I added both!

The amazing colors of the plankton that lies on top of a small pond.

I paid a visit to Chong Khneas, one of the floating villages in Siem Reap. It was fun as I steered the boat on my own with the driver as a passenger, a 14-year-old local boy who was the only other person with me. I bought a beer for myself and a coke for the driver from a girl on another boat.

To end this entry, I have left the children rowing down the river in buckets for the very end. I have never seen anything quite like this. I stopped the boat with curiosity when I saw them and they paddled up to me and what a shock I had when I peeked out off the boat and they threw snakes on me! I wasn’t afraid of snakes as I used to own 8 at one time myself, but what a surprise when they suddenly appeared from nowhere!