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The People of Siem Reap, Cambodia

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by Richella, May 4, 2014.

  1. Richella

    Richella The Wandering Scotsman

    Aug 21, 2011
    Kuala Lumpur
    At the beginning of April this year I at last made my trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia. We have been living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the last 4 years and every year we promised that we would go to Cambodia and this year we eventually did.

    Before making the trip my sole photographic objective was to capture some great shots of the famous Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples. However once we arrived I was overwhelmed by the outgoing ,friendly and welcoming nature of the Cambodian people. I quickly realised that it was not the temples that would be my memories of Cambodia but the people and street life. After years of persecution and inconceivable hardship the Cambodian people seem to live life to the fullest. Many still suffer and daily life is hard for the majority. Despite this they go about their daily business with a smile on their faces.

    After my first day, when we spent the day visiting the temples, I quickly switched my photographic ambitions to trying to record some of the amazing street life that was all around me.

    Each morning I left my hotel at 7am and walked along the banks of the main river in Siem Reap photographing the people getting ready for their day. I was amazed by the ingenuity of the Cambodian people and how they can do so much with such simple motorbikes and mopeds that I decided to make a mini project to capture the divers use of motorbikes in daily life.

    The first and most common use of motorbikes is to provide the Tuk-Tuk service around Siem Reap. Many of the tuk-tuks are made from converted horse carriages and many of the drivers had customised their tuk-tuk. I grabbed this shot of a glamorous young women taking a Tuk-tuk to wherever she was going.

    These boys had converted their motorbike into a water delivery truck. Perhaps one of the "coolest" conversion I saw.

    Hauling his load of freshly cut bananas to the Old Market in the centre of Siem Reap.

    This is a "people carrier" Cambodian style. I'm guessing that this is a farming family coming into Siem Reap early in the morning to visit the Old Market in the centre of Siem Reap. Many of the Cambodians are subsistence farmers selling what little extra they can grow. Life is tough in the countryside as it is in many countries.

    Of course, If you don't have a trailer you can just use your motorbike as a people carrier. Here a family of four head into the centre of Siem Reap across one of the many bridges. The young boys sees the decorations that are being erected for Cambodian New Year and points them out to his family. Cambodian New Year takes place from the 13th April for 3 days. It is a time of great celebration and symbolises the end of the harvest season, before the wet season begins.

    Another family loaded down with groceries makes their way home after a mornings shopping at the Old Market

    Two young lads set off on their morning rounds to clean windows.

    A slightly older version of a water delivery motorbike. It's hard to believe that the little worn-out motorbike could tow that trailer when it was fully loaded with water.

    Not sure where this woman was going as she headed out of Siem Reap fully loaded with baguettes. Perhaps she was heading to the Angkor Wat temple complex to make sandwiches for the tourists.

    And not forgetting the non-motorised version of the motorbike, the bicycle. No mountain bikes, no racing bikes just the good old fashioned bicycle was much used in Cambodia.

    A beautiful young woman peddles her mobile flowershop along the main highway heading out of Siem Reap. When she saw me she started to giggle and wobbled a little on her bike.

    Here a couple of tourist join the morning commuters. Despite the chaos and business of the roads the Cambodian drivers were very courteous and acknowledging and in my 5 days in Siem Reap I didn't see one bit of road-rage or any accidents - so quite safe to ride your bike. Many tourists rent bikes in the town centre and cycle around the temples. It is about 8km from Siem Reap to the temples, an 8km loop around the temples and then the 8km back to Siem Reap. Not for the faint hearted in the scorching heat at the end of the Cambodian dry season.

    I was mesmerised as to how this woman managed to get these sticks stacked and balanced on the back of her bike.

    This woman is taking her haul of homemade sweeping brushes to the local market to sell.


    Young love in Cambodia and her smile was so typical of many that I received walking around Siem Reap each morning taking photos. This is a magical place and I was humbled and still get quite emotional when I think about the friendly, hard-working, out going and generous people of Cambodia. I will definitely be going back. Not to see more temples or trek around the country side on a quad bikes, although although this generates much needed tourist dollars for Siem Reap.

    I will be going back because of the people. This must be one of the few remaining places where people are genuine, where people smile and wave without wanting something in return. Where people are grateful for what they have and work hard to make their lives better.

    If you enjoyed these photos then head over to my SMUGMUG site to see more of my photos from my short visit to Siem Reap. If you ever have the opportunity to visit then take it. Its a great place!!
    • Like Like x 25
  2. daum

    daum Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 26, 2011
    I had just got back from visiting Cambodia for the first time since I left at the age of 1. I too noticed how friendly and hard working the people are there. Will definitely go back.
  3. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Nice! Loads of interest here, thanks for posting.

    "The Bikes of Siem Reap, Cambodia", surely?
    • Like Like x 1
  4. These bring back some memories. Cambodia is indeed full of lovely people, and if you ARE into temples and ruins, the Angkor temples are amongst the most impressive you'll find around the world.
  5. rbelyell

    rbelyell Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 15, 2013
    Mountains of NY
    wonderful series. thank you!
  6. Ellsass

    Ellsass Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 15, 2014
    Very nice, makes me nostalgic.
  7. Crdome

    Crdome Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 11, 2011
    West Central Indiana
    Wow! Stunning imagery!
  8. Richella

    Richella The Wandering Scotsman

    Aug 21, 2011
    Kuala Lumpur
    You're correct the temples are spectacular. My favourites were Bayon temple and Ta Prohm. Wasn't overly impressed by Angkor Wat. However after 2 half day visits my teenage kids had enough. I would love to spend much longer in Cambodia. So many photo opportunities.
  9. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    A fascinating project, you captured the variety of bikes very nicely. :2thumbs:
  10. Bill Gordon

    Bill Gordon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Thank you so much for bringing us a trip to cambodia and fantastic photographs of the people. Oh, if the whole world was so happy then we would not have the conflicts that continues to make the problems that we have in the west.
  11. plaatje

    plaatje Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 15, 2012
  12. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jan 5, 2013
    Love the story along with the photos. Sounds like a great trip. Thanks for sharing it with us.
  13. MrDoug

    MrDoug Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 5, 2011
    Boise, Idaho
    I Like plus "THANKS".. Even though THANKS is not the Protocol here anymore.. LOL.. Maybe I should not of said Thanks.. but anyways.. Thanks.. great effort and awesome shots.. Please don't SLAP my hands Amin for saying Thanks.. :)  If so, I won't use the BEAUTIFUL word "THANKS" anymore on the forum.. LOL
  14. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    Great shots. I feel the same way about the people of Laos. Unexploded ordnance from the Indochina conflict is still going off, killing and injuring people just about every week, but the people are just so welcoming, almost always ready with a smile. Thailand is lovely, but for me the real land of smiles will always be Laos, in part because thinking of it brings such a ready smile to my face.

    And now, with friends there, I have to keep going back!
  15. plaatje

    plaatje Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 15, 2012
    We were thinking about the country we would like to visit and Laos came on spot. Reading your reply now even more . . .
    Could it be a coincidence that there are now two threads about Cambodia on this site? ( one about Cambodia and the other one on Seam Riep ) . . .
  16. Huff

    Huff Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 30, 2014
    Very nice set. The sights and sounds (and the smells in some places :)  ) flood the senses.

    I love visiting Cambodia. I've been thee twice in the pst few years. The region is changing...I saw a big difference in even just 1 year between trips. When you get back there, try to get out to some of the surrounding areas. Siem Reap is fascinating but I really loved getting out of the crowds and spending time in places like Tonle Sap. I too really liked Bayon and Ta Prohm. I understand there are crowd control ropes installed to protect some of the areas in Ta Prohm, and thats a good thing. As more and more people discovered these amazing structures the impact was felt. There where veryfew restrictions when I was there and I have some great shots of my son and some other friends sitting in the window frames near the massive root structure.

    Someone also mentioned Laos...I liked it here ever more! I will be heading back there soon and would highly recommend it, at least in the nothern part of the country and the World Heritage city of Laung Prabang.
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