Siem Reap left me speechless. I worked out I've visited 31 countries, with 4 more to go this year alone. All of them had a wonderful influence on me in some way. But none fed my soul the way my couple of days in Cambodia.
After two tiring but unforgettable days, it was my last night in Siem Reap. I'd done the temples...although that trite statement definitely underplays how jaw-droppingly, "oh my" inducing they are. I decided it was time to go see the town itself, have some local food and do what I do best; anonymously explore.
I knew despite a lot of mod cons, Siem Reap is a city in a developing country that was once the scene of a genocide of utter horror. But the stories of the Khmer Rouge and their evil is centred around Pnohm Penh & I will get there one day. Siem Reap has embraced its role as a tourist Mecca. So it was a mixture of modern and local. The centre of the city was positively buzzing. There were traditional style markets mixed with ones selling more modern styles of clothes and souvenirs for the thousands like me. There was traditional food mixed with cuisine to make the traveler feel at home. I ended up in a Khmer Cuisine (it said so outside) eating BBQ crocodile and chicken dish made for a thousand years by the old peasant people. And there was Pub Street. It doesn't need an explanation but it sure was hectic. The mix of old and new some world ramblers might have considered it garish and harsh. Two much light and elements of the west. To me the west used to be my home and although it wasn't true traditional Cambodian culture, it certainly felt different to my homes in Australia, France and any western country I've visited. I have no other point of reference. The bubbling, noisy, hectic streets of Central Siem Reap are Cambodia 2016 to me.
The night, the vibe, the images seemed to demand a mixture of colour and black and white photos. I still not comfortable with street photography. I think I look like a poorly disguised undercover cop when I pull out my camera. But I had to capture the images of Siem Reap and Pub Street at night. I might have felt a little self conscience taking these snaps but the rest of time, the east and west in Central Siem Reap could have easily been home.