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Archive for the ‘Cambodia’ Category

creepy

One of my last photos taken in Phnom Penh, July 10.

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(I’ve been back in the US for over three weeks right now, which explains the huge gap between posts. Here’s the last stop on my Cambodian adventure)

kep crab restaurants

Kep exceeded all possible expectations. Nearly every expat I met told me not to leave Cambodia without a visit to Kep. Their descriptions were kind of vague for a place that was supposedly so cool, a place where there wasn’t much to do but relax and eat crab. I added it to my itinerary as an afterthought, thinking it might make a good spot to wrap up four months in Southeast Asia. And it was.

kep

From the turn of the century through the 1960s, Kep was the premier resort in Cambodia. French and Cambodian elites built spectacular villas in the hills overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. King Sihanouk had an estate in the area as well as a nearly-complete palace that he never had a chance to occupy. The civil war and Khmer Rouge years devastated Kep. The elites abandoned their villas, which were looted and often used as government and Khmer Rouge hideouts.

abandoned villa

Today Kep is a sleepy beachside town that’s slowly being rediscovered by Cambodians and tourists alike.
I arrived on a Sunday afternoon after a four hour bus ride from Phnom Penh, and the place was practically somnolent. A laid-back motodop greeted me and took me to Botanica Bungalows, Kep’s cheapest option at $8/per night. Botanica offered a couple rusty bikes for guests, a necessity for a thorough exploration of the area.

along the coast

I spent the next 36 hours biking aimlessly, lazing in hammocks, and poking around abandoned villas (more on this in a future post). It was possibly the most relaxing 36 hours of my life.

fishing boat

A fishing boat with the prime minister’s villa in the background. Hun Sen was in town while I was there, which meant I had to take care not to get plastered by his motorcade as I biked.

gas station

Typical small-town Cambodian gas station.

crab statue

Kep’s popularity is interesting, because for a resort it has a terrible beach. The real draw is its fresh seafood, especially crab.

kampot pepper crab

No trip to Kep is complete without a plate of Kampot Pepper Crab. At $10 it was fairly overpriced, but it might have been the most delicious seafood I’ve ever had. Definitely some MSG involved.

bicycle vendor

Bicycle vendor selling some sort of refreshments.

orphanage

These kids were hanging out at what I think is an orphanage.

kids

One of my favorite photos from Cambodia.

girl

anguish

clowning

kid with knife

Not sure what this kid was doing playing with a knife.

curious

In a few years Kep will be unrecognizable. Big hotels and resorts are already in the early stages of construction, and soon it’ll be nothing more than a smaller version of Sihanoukville.

More photos from Kep here.

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One afternoon along Sothearos Boulevard, Phnom Penh:

vendor

Vendor selling some sort of meat snack.

schoolkids

Kids let out of school at 5pm. Instant traffic jam.

phillies fan

Peace.

haircut

$0.50 for an open-air haircut.

motorbike repair

Hanging tires signals a roadside motorbike repair station.

what?

Random slogan on the wall of a construction site. Not sure what this even means.

pipes

Playing with pipes at a specialty shop along Sothearos.

sharpening

Man sharpening knives.

knives

strange ancient furniture

A store claiming to sell “strange” and “ancient” furniture. Not really.

recycling

Scavenging for bottles to recycle outside a beer garden.

glass case

Transporting a glass case. Disaster waiting to happen.

curiousity

Curious.

laugh

Car washer taking a break.

biking

tenements

Squatters’ tenements near St. 294.

street sign

Street sign in need of some maintenance.

push

Cars are usually left in neutral so they can be pushed to new parking spots.

traffic

Traffic at dusk.

sothearos

More from Sothearos Boulevard here.

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bad karma

I know Cambodia doesn’t have public bathrooms, but seriously:

bad karma

On Angkor Wat? Your most treasured national monument? Can’t you duck in the jungle or find a tree or something?

C’mon, man. Not in front of the tourists.

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32 sothearos

This relic of French Indochina is one of Phnom Penh’s most photographed buildings. It’s also a bit of a mystery. Built in the 1920’s when the capital was dubbed the “Pearl of Asia,” the mansion is one of Phnom Penh’s few surviving colonial buildings. 32 Sothearos Boulevard doesn’t have a name or a recorded history, and most people refer to it as something along the lines of “that old colonial building.” A perfect example of urban decay.

colonial building

Decades of war, neglect, and decay have all taken their toll.

facade

I had photographed the building a while back, and always wanted to go inside for a more in-depth exploration.

mansion

The rent-a-cop lounging at the entrance was more interested in watching the clouds than keeping me from poking around for a while. His indifference was a little disappointing as it took away the usual thrill of infiltrating an abandoned building. The German tourist I ran into inside also didn’t help.

abandoned

All sorts of random stuff cluttered the first floor: tools, drying clothes, chairs, bags of cement, a microwave. The second floor was apparently the living quarters for the handful of construction workers that wandered about, oblivious to my presence.

abandoned

Each room seemed to have a single chair in it.

2nd floor

2nd floor

english lesson

Most abandoned buildings tend to attract graffiti, and this was no exception. Here’s an English lesson on verbs, written on a bathroom wall.

abandoned

The FCC recently purchased the building, and renovation is almost underway to transform it into a 24-room faux-colonial luxury hotel complete with pool and French bistro. Construction is supposed to start mid-2008. Preservationists must love this, but I hoped it would be turned into something more people could enjoy. At least it won’t be torn down.

doorway

Rest of the Flickr set here

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Some black & white experiments with the temples of Angkor:

ta prohm

ta prohm

bayon

deity

face

stangle

door

Full set here.

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Conversation with Nhean Pov at Wat Langka, Phnom Penh

nhean pov

nhean pov

nhean pov

nhean pov

nhean pov

nhean pov

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