I had never been to Asia, somewhere so different, and warm, and vibrant. When I found out about this trip I jumped. I don't normally do this. It was not a financially intelligent decision, but something told me I had to do this. I called Dustin and said I need to go to Cambodia in a couple of months, and him being the supportive man he is, said yes you do, even though we weren't quite sure how it would work.
A couple months later I was walking off a plane in Siem Reap being greeted by the the heavy wet air and a lovely man named Mr. Sith driving a tuk tuk was waiting for me with a sign that read my name. In the darkness we drove through busy streets as I met a couple of the ladies I would spend the next 10 days with. We arrived to our guest house and enjoyed a 75 cent beer and rested after a 36 hour travel time.
When I say the people of Siem Reap are warm is an understatement. The affection and closeness of everyone I met and saw was refreshing. Little boys holding hands, hold babies, giving me the peace sign and a smile after I waved at them. So thrilled to have their photo taken, to show us around, to drag us through the ruins that are their play grounds. The warmth of people who have lived through genocide, having lost their entire family, living by themselves for years, and being killed themselves. To see a man go to hell and back and still have love in his eyes, magical.
The children, I mean I can't even. The amount of naked buts with dirt on them that I saw was heart warming. I realized quickly that the "fuss" that we have for our babies in the US is non-existent there. They play in the dirt and they get scrapes and bruises and cry and laugh and get passed around and held by everyone. It reminded me so much of how I grew up in Brooklyn in the 80's and 90's. So little fuss, everyone looked out for everyone else, it was a community. Cambodia brought that back, hard. I told Dustin when I got back home that we are probably going to have to live in SE Asia for a year after we have kids, so they learn this, inherently. I want this to seep into my life again.
The textures, and colors, and the fruit, and the blessings. I must have been blessed a dozen times, maybe that is why life is so good since Siem Reap. Maybe that is what pushed me to where I am now. The man in Angkor Wat, who punched my chest and said with the most wholesome, sincere, and intense look in his eyes "I wish you have good life" and he smiled and I melted and almost lost in that corridor, It was truly truly a moment in time that was heavier than most, truly.
As a photographer Cambodia is a dream, to travel there with so many other photographers was insane. The connections made there, the people, the monkeys, I mean I could go on forever. As if I could choose between the thousands of photos I shot there, here are some that felt like they needed to be shared. There are a lot, because the trip was a lot, no need to cut it down past this. If you have the chance, go to Cambodia.
Thanks to Bobby Earle for sharing this part of his world with so many of us!