Cambodia has an impressive heritage, and major cultural and historical signifigance (everything I say here sounds like a cheesily written understatement). In reality it is seeping in tradition and monuments, the people themselves are part of that. They have had so much cultural identity wiped out during the wars, and Khmer Rouge leadership; Cambodians are now taking that back, rediscovering their own identity. They love to share it!
As Anth showed us around, I got a very strong sense that this is a place that won't stay untouched for very long at all. Cambodians are so sociable, open, friendly and hungry for their country to grow...its only a matter of time until the quaint and beautiful Siem Reap becomes a mega-tourist destinantion.
There already a lot of Ex-Pats setting up business there, and so much building going on. Everyone falls in love with a place like that at once, and the Temples of Angkor are a massive draw for Siem Reap.
We visited Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat, Terrace of Elephants and Bayon. It's a bit geeky but I have added a map so you can see just how massive the site is. We saw lots of construction work going on there, as time has not been a good friends to the temples, and during years of civil unrest and neglect, the jungle has reclaimed a lot of the buildings.
I was so excited to visit them...
I loved all the shrines I came accross, some Hindu, some Buddhist; they are all so bright and glowing with warm colours and feelings. I burned incense at Angkor Wat at a Buddha shrine and had another bracelet good-luck blessing by a monk too. I felt very open to it, I am quite open to all spiritual experiences...my Mum would say I always have been.
I loved these shrines from both a spiritual and artistic point of view, as I have long been inspired by collections of objects: accidental still-life set ups. Actually this reminds me, when I was at Art School and going through my 'Eastern Spirituality' phase, I made some shrines like the one at the top. I was fascinated with the idea of devotion.
Another artistic obsession for me. Anything rustic, rusted; any doorway, window, opening...I'm on it with my camera. For me this was the best part of the visit to the temples: sooo many 'views through'. I was snapping like crazy. The light was terrible so I have messed around with these images, let's say A LOT. I wanted to do the scene/ compsition justice and processing them (for me) brings out some of the emotional experience too. These and the many others I took will become Textile work in the future.
I took hundreds of photographs on this visit. As Bun Lay showed us around he told us all the tales, in his 'storyteller' way, of thie times that these walls were covered in beautiful pristine plaster, and painted or covered in silver and gold. I was captivated by the surfaces, imagining the times of the Khmer Kings and the great commanding city of Angkor which used to be the strongest nation in South East Asia.
And a final view through...to me x