Bullets into jewelry- a country on the rise
Trip Start Nov 21, 2013
8Trip End Dec 16, 2013
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Where I stayed
The Kingdom of Cambodia, home to 15 million people where 55% of the population is under 25 years old due to it's horrific past during Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge's ruling, also home to the largest religious structure on planet Earth and the 8th wonder of the world- Angkor Wat, built around 113-15BC.
It is incredible that a country that has been to hell and back inhabits such wonderful and kind people. Beautiful faces greets you with broad smiles as they maneuver their way trough traffic with as many as six (!) passengers on one small motorbike, friendly greetings with "chomreabsour" (hello in Khmer) and always a "good luck to you" ending every conversation
Ever since I visited Angkor Wat in 2005 no other structure that I have seen in the world, has even come close to the grandeur of these temples. It is simply mindblowing. Angkor was once the capital of the mighty Khmer empire with a population of a million people. This place needs a good 3-7 days to visit, and the best way to get around is a tuk-tuk or on bicycle. Once on the temple grounds, one gets overwhelmed with vendors selling everything possible that is Angkor-inspired, sweets in bamboo sticks that contains rice, beans and coconut and little children that try to get you to buy postcards for one dollaaaaaaaaaah (whiny expression that drives everyone crazy).
Angkor Wat is receiving about 1 million visitors every year and it takes a lot of dedication and very little sleep to get some uncrowded shots of it's temple. With this in mind, I head out at 4.30am in the darkness with a tuk-tuk to catch the sunrise over the main temple. It is very dark and I stumble over the uneven bridge that leads up to the main temple, and manage to get a perfect spot in the front row. Tripod is ready to go and about an hour later the sun's rays gently caresses the slightly cool Cambodian sky. Shutters starts to go off and as I look back behind me, I realize about 15 large double-decker busses with Japanese tourists must have rolled up and I am elbow to elbow with some blood thirsty photo-capturing fanatics
The following days my tuk-tuk driver "Pie" and guide Naomi, helps me to make my visit to Angkor unforgettable. I capture some amazing footage, meet monks as well as an amazing nun at the Preah Kahn temple, who is 76 years old and whom is in better shape than I am, as I try to keep up with her when she leads me trough the temple and over large boulders. Incredible! I catch the sunrise over lake Srah Sang and sunset over Bayon temple, I watch traditional Apsara dance and buy jewelry made out of old bullets from an amazing store called Saomao . That summarizes so much of what Cambodia stands for; making beautiful jewelry out of something so destructive and horrible as old bullets and bullet shells, to create something beautiful out of their horrific past. I think that is so incredibly amazing!
I am so happy I followed my intuition and returned to this very special place, and once again it has exceeded my expectations.
Peace, Love and bullet shells
PS, If you are interested in reading about Cambodia's past I suggest "Fist they killed my father" by Loung Ung or watch "the Killing fields" on DVD