Thursday, September 22, 2011

// travel snapshots // cambodia

I have been following Liz of devoured on her adventures through Asia (she used to live in Vietnam and Cambodia, you know!). Now she is back to Australia and I am looking forward to be soon on the same continent as her :) Liz will share her adventures in the small towns of Kep and Kampot in Southern Cambodia today. Such wonderful places! Enjoy!!


What is your most favorite place to take photographs?
I really enjoyed visiting and photographing the small towns of Kep and Kampot on Cambodia’s beautiful south coast. Kep was once the playground of Cambodian royalty, international stars and jetsetters in the 1960s (Jackie Onassis was a fan). It is now a low-key village with a ghost town feel, with a scattering of places to stay and a row of local crab shacks to eat at. Set amongst rich green tropical foliage, Kep is dotted with abandoned villas, most of which you can explore if you pay a small tip to their caretakers. Nearby Kampot is set slightly inland on a picturesque river backed by Bokor Mountain. The town itself has rows of gorgeous old shophouses and French colonial buildings, some in a state of disrepair and others restored by a new generation of entrepreneurial expats who have established small guesthouses and restaurants.

What makes this place so photogenic in your eyes?
Kep’s combination of a stunning oceanfront setting, tropical southeast Asian foliage, French colonial era relics and mid-century architecture, albeit crumbling, makes it a captivating place to photograph. Photographing the once palatial villas captures the essence of Kep as a shell of its former holiday hotspot self. Its heyday was during a happier time in Cambodia’s history pre the turbulent Khmer Rouge era, and the old buildings serve an eerie reminder of what Cambodia once was and how far it fell. Kampot has a charming ambience and is relatively unspoilt, hotel development on Bokor Mountain aside. Similar to Kep, the combination of aged yet charming buildings and a gorgeous natural scenery are immensely visually appealing.

Which popular sights did you like best?
In Kep, King Sihanouk’s deserted retro-style villa, perched high on a hill with stunning view of the sea, and in Kampot, the river and surrounding streets lined with old shophouses, the colourful local market and the vibrant green rice paddies and hot pink lotus flowers seen while driving between the two towns.

Every place has its own beauty, essence and specialities. How can this be captured on film?
In both Kep and Kampot, beauty can be found in the old, the crumbling and the abandoned. The architecture in both towns help tell the story of Cambodia’s rich history and cultural influences, from times of prosperity to war and back again, as the area is slowly revitalised. When captured on film, the details of these buildings can evoke another era, from a shot of an old patterned French colonial era tile, to a crumbling wooden doorway on an old shophouse. Scenes of everyday Cambodian life can also make fascinating subjects, from fishermen and their colourful wooden boats to people driving makeshift vehicles or tending their fields.

Are there any specifics to take into consideration while shooting and do you have any special

recommendations on how to get the "perfect picture"?
The Cambodian midday sun can be scorching, and like most places, the best photos can be taken in the early morning and at sunset. The sun setting over Bokor Mountain can be particularly stunning, and can be seen and photographed from hillside vantage points in Kep. Local caretakers may request or expect a small fee for entering and photographing Kep’s abandoned villas. It is polite to ask local people before photographing them close up.

While traveling, what camera equipment do you normally take?
I use a Canon EOS 450D with an EFS 18-55mm lens for most travel photography and a Canon Ixus 220 HS for everyday shots.

What is your most favorite picture of this place and why?
I like the picture of the abandoned villa in Kep behind the barbed wire fence, which belonged to a Cambodian royal, King Monivong. It reveals a bygone era of luxury when Kep was a seaside resort town, yet has an ominous look hinting at Cambodia’s dark and destructive past, and subsequent abandonment of the building.
All pictures by Liz of devoured


  1. I love the picture with the palm trees. I went to Cambodia last year and also found it a breathtaking place!

  2. Thanks Oneika! Yes, Cambodia is definitely a breathtaking place, I love it. Just checking out your blog, it's amazing, you've been to so many places!

  3. For Cambodian people, this photograph is remind the golden age 1960 to 1970. Cultural and social hidden behind this image. We are ruling by France but it not means it all bad. This photo show how luxury and crossing culture that France brought to Cambodia at colonial age. One day, we would restore those building. Thanks again , this would be historical evidence if those building destroy or disappear.


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