CAMBODIA, CITY TO SLUMS

Phnom Penh to Kampot - what an experience!

This was my second visit to Cambodia and it was just as enlightening as the first.

My goal this trip was to shoot environmental portraits, as well as a few landscapes during the rainy season. I wanted to get up close and personal with the local people.

Cambodia offers some of the best opportunities for photography and the people are some of the friendliest and welcoming you could ever wish to meet.

Off the beaten track I came across this local farmer lady who was waiting patiently whilst her cow grazed in the rice fields.

Through my translator I chatted with her, learning more about her life.  She went on to tell me that the only picture she had ever seen of herself was when she received her Cambodian ID card.

It was a great moment and feeling to see her reaction when I showed her the portrait I took of her, I will be sure to give her a copy on my return visit. 

In the same paddy fields local kids help herd the water buffalo to the next field to graze.

The water buffalo assist farmers when plowing their rice fields.   It was great fun wading through knee-deep mud and water to get into the right position to take the shot.

Sometimes you need to get dirty to get the shot! 

Scooters were the preferred mode of transport in Kampot and this is the only way (in my opinion) to get around, reason being, there is so much to see, every roadside hut and house has something to photograph.

Whilst riding I came across some kids playing in their front yard, the game involves the kids jumping to get their feet onto the elastic bands. It’s amazing to watch how athletic they are and great to see the kids having so much fun with such a simple idea. 

I had heard about the slums in Phnom Penh and wanted to get a first hand view for myself. What an eye opener!

I visited two areas one on Silk island where there are the Vietnamese immigrants living and another area on the out skirts of Phnom Penh where a relatively large Muslim community lives on the banks of the adjoining Mekong and Tonle Slap rivers in make shift wooden huts, their only source of income is from fishing.  

 A vast difference between wealth and poverty, less than 300 meters away a 5 star hotel resort lay where international travelers enjoy a luxury lifestyle, most probably unaware or uninterested in what lies a few yards beneath them.

My first few steps into the Silk Island slum, I must admit I was a little nervous. I couldn’t have been more wrong, walking through the village the people were so friendly, kids playing soccer and chasing after their friends through wooden huts and make shift houses. Adults were offering their home cooked food and everyone greets you with a smile as I basically walked in and around their homes. 

As bad as their conditions are they are making the most of what they have and to be honest they actually look a lot happier than most people I come across in the streets of Hong Kong where I reside.

I’m not trying to make light of their situation because it is extremely sad to see in this day and age people still having to live like this, my point being even in harshest times these people still manage to have a smile on their face, I learnt a lot from my time here.

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