Saturday, February 7, 2015

What did I Really See in Cambodia?

Somebody asked me, what is your favorite place to photograph?  Tough question.  For me, it's not the photographs I take home, but the experience while taking them, especially the ones that move me, or led me to see things differently. 
Our recent trip to Cambodia and the boat ride to Tonle Sap Lake changed my perspective.  The people you'll find in this collection are gems because of the smiles they reflect back form the murky waters of the lake, because of how they appreciate their resources, and most especially they don't approach the boats for money from touriss.  Maybe because, they feel happier than us, or more contented than us.
I hope this will change your perspective too. 
It's no Gondola of Venice, but his stripes put a striking resemblance to a Venetian boat man.  Maybe to them, it feels like Venice, or even better. 

 "Crayola Boats" 
No fancy cars in the next 10 kms, but endless rows of Crayola boats.  These colorful boats have amazing handling capabilities even in choppy waters. 

I don't speak Khmer (Cambodian language) but from the way our boatman moves his boat in the lake while he looks at the horizon, pride is louder than the boat's roaring engine. 

 "Long Legged Ladies"
These stilt houses are ready for the rising of the tide when seasons rapidly change in Cambodia.  They also provide great ventilation from beneath the house and wise storage for firewood.  Just like a long-legged lady, in a red gown, yes?

  "Giant Playground" 
Kids in the lake make the most of what they have.  With no monkey bars to use, the lake is like a giant playground to them.

"Refreshingly Murky"
Though very mysterious, the waters of Tonle Sap Lake does not leave even a stint of bad smell in my shirt; and when the afternoon sun directly hits the water, it glitters like the fresh waters of Coron. 
 "Blame the Mangroves"
I am no biologist but mangroves taught us a lesson in Baler. If we don't take care of them, they don't take care of us.  The steady and fish breeding waters of Tonle Sap Lake is because of it's abundant mangrove covers while entering and exiting the lake. 
"Row before you run"
Learning to row before learning to walk.  Just like I learned how to ride a bike first before learning how to walk. 

"Himalayan Replenishment"
Tonle Sap Lake shares the same water flow with the Mekong River of Vietnam.  They are continuously replenished by the melting snow from the Himalayas. 
"Bus to School"
They ride the boat everyday just to go to school.  Some kids I know who have all means of transportation to get to school but still don't get the idea.
"Just Roll w/ the Punches"
There's no complaining, just rolling with the punches.  Even when bigger boats create wake that toss the boat of a fish vendor, she still proceeds to the market.

Fish paste from Tonle Sap Lake grilled in wrapped banana leaves are found in the streets of Cambodia as soon as the sun sets.  Matched with Khmer fish sauce, greens, noodles, and chili, it's one of the best and freshest rolls in Asia.

So, what are you complaining about lately? If you still think you don't deserve where you are now, think again.  Perhaps it's time to change your perspective, or the way you see things.

Like taking photographs, always look for a different perspective.  I am pretty sure you don't want to go home with identical photographs similar to other tourists.  Stop looking for the picture perfect and postcard like photographs.  Go for the ones that will change your perspective and change the way you see things. 

This is what I really saw in Cambodia.

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