Tag: ‘cambodia’



Old Church | Kampot

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

On my final full day in Kampot, I decided to venture up Bokor once again, this time on (the back of) a real motorcycle with a crazy guy named Steve (I think) who was also staying at Olly’s place. I didn’t get a chance to explore the creepy church while I was up there the first time, and I really wanted to because everyone kept saying the place was haunted. Though my ankle was killing me at this point, Steve and I hiked around the eerie grounds of this old Khmer Rouge hold-out, taking time to inspect the bullet-ridden, graffiti-marked walls. I’m thankful I visited during the middle of day and not anytime near sundown because this place truly gave me the heebie jeebies.

Check out this crazy youtube trailer to get a full picture of what I experienced up there.

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Bokor Mountain | Kampot Cambodia

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

After flying over my mortorbike handles and badly hurting my ankle, I decided against my better judgement that I “didn’t want to waste the day,” and set out on a 20 mile motorcycle trek to the top of Bokor Mountain. I didn’t know what to expect and the whole ride was quite strange. All I knew is that were about to tear down some eerie historic buildings and replace them with an effing massive casino and resort on top of this crazy mountain in this random Cambodian town, and I had to see it for myself.

Apparently prior to 2011, the top of the mountain was only accessible by jeep but because of the casino project, travelers can now blaze up world-class roads. The ascent was steep but smooth. At the top of the mountain, there are 3 main historic sites:  an abandoned hill station, an eerie, burned-out palace hotel and casino, and a catholic church which can only be described as creepy (I will share pictures of the creepy church in my next entry). Interesting fact: all of these sites were the setting for the climax of the 2002 Matt Dillon crime thriller, “City of Ghosts.” I really wanted to see and walk through the old casino, as I had heard they would soon be tearing it down, but it was closed off and covered in scaffolding. The construction of the new resort and casino (called the Thansur Bokor Highland Resort) is well underway, and there is even a stop mid way up the mountain where you can see a small scale model of the entire project. I was in total disbelief, I just keep looking at it and thinking “what the hell?!”

Along the route, road workers were working brick by brick, bucket by bucket to finish this new road. There were hundreds of workers along the 20 mile stretch installing lamp posts and guard rails under the hot Cambodian sun. I took my time winding up the mountain, stopping to chat with the workers and take some portraits of them. Some were eager to smile for the camera, others were confused, wondering why I would want to photograph them. I chatted with them as best I could given the language barrier and tried to understand how they felt about this new casino on top of their town’s historic mountaintop. Most seem pleased, as it would provide many with jobs, but a few expressed concern, speaking about the natural landscape and history of the mountain top.

Bokor mountain is not only a national park, it was a once a resort town for party goers, built by the French in the 1920′s, then abandoned in the 50s, and used as holdout for the Khmer Rouge in the 70s. It is ridden with scars of war, and the vibe is downright haunting. It was even named one of the top ten haunted places in the world by Travelihub. I wouldn’t disagree. There’s a lot more I could write about Bokor, and in fact, I returned the following day with a fellow traveler Steve to experience it again….there’s just something about being up there… it just gives you a strange feeling… the natural beauty and the colonial history now clashing with the sparkling modernity and resort for the rich…there’s even a structure that resembles a UFO, as if it weren’t weird enough up there.

Here are a few additional reads about Bokor, if you’re interested. The Bokor PalaceFaded Grandeur.

All images copyrighted by nyc travel photographer Erica Camille. Do not use without permission.

Kampot | Cambodia

Friday, December 7th, 2012

I have mixed feelings about Kampot, because it will forever be known as “the place I flew off my motorbike.” But I love it. It was a long bus ride from Phenom Pen, but well worth it. Somewhere along the way, I was abruptly forced out of my sleeping-pill induced slumber during what I thought was a direct bus ride. I apparently thought wrong,  because around dawn I was shaken awake by the bus driver only to look up and find I was the only remaining passenger. I fumbled my way off the bus, mumbling grumpily in English to Cambodians. The second bus finally came and after a few random stops (I say random because some of them included randomly taking plants off and on the bus as seen in the second picture) we arrived in the beautiful riverside town of Kampot. I was lucky enough to book a last-minute bungalow at Ollies, a popular place near the water. It was raining when I arrived, which was a wonderful way to start my stay. I stripped down into my swimsuit and joined a few others for a swim during a massive downpour.

On my second day in Kampot I decided to go for an ambitious motorbike ride along the coast to the nearby seaside down of Kep, known for it’s beautiful beach and delicious seafood. I didn’t even make it out of town because as I was trying to find the road that took me out of the city, I got stuck on a horrible pothole-ridden gravel road. Before I knew it, my bike was headed straight for the biggest pothole in the road and I was flying over my handlebars. I was lucky. Extremely lucky. And so was the bike I had borrowed from Ollie. I scraped my ankle badly right on the bone, an injury that ended up haunting me for a few weeks, as well as some other scrapes and cuts. I managed to get myself back on the bike and drive it over the bridge and back to Ollies where I finally got to clean off the blood dripping down my legs!

I even thought about going to Kep anyway, but I knew it was a horrible idea.  Instead, I decided to take a trip up Bokor Mountain on my wimpy motorbike see for myself this crazy mega-resort and casino project that everyone had been telling me about…all that and more coming soon.

Oh, did I mention Cambodia randomly has some of the best spare ribs I’ve ever had? Don’t miss the Rusty Keyhole if you end up in Kampot.

Angkor Silk Farm | Siem Reap, Cambodia

Monday, June 18th, 2012

On my last day of site seeing in Siem Reap, I decided to skip my original plans to go to floating villages, and instead head to the Angkor Silk Farm, one of the few FREE attractions in Siem Reap, (though in theory you are expected to buy silks at the end-I didn’t). It’s also a fair trade organization. I watched each step of the silk making process- something I knew nothing about previously. Silk is spun out of the saliva of the Bombyx mori, or silkworm and it’s a very intricate process. It is the by-product of silkworms gorging on the leaves of mulberry trees.They spin tiny cocoons which are harvested and boiled. In Cambodia, nothing is wasted. After the silk is removed from the cocoons, the silkworms provide a delicious snack, offering much needed protein and fat! I really enjoyed this tour and would highly reccomend it over some of the other tourist attractions in Siem Reap (namely the scammy floating villages, not only a tourist trap that sucks your money, but none of the money goes back into the community). To read more bout Cambodia’s silk industry check out this NY times article.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat + More Wandering | Cambodia

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

I arose at dawn to meet my motorbike driver, Mow, (shown in this entry sleeping in a hammock) who took me through the crisp morning air to join the masses for sunrise at Angkor Wat. Though it was crowded with tourists (many of which were using tripods and cameras, which they clearly didn’t really know how to use!), it was magnificent to watch the sun emerge from behind such a masterful piece of ancient architecture. Travelers, be careful not to sit on the mats right in front of the lake, or a local vendor will suddenly appear and insist you are sitting on “their mat.” They will offer you tea or coffee and charge you a dollar or two for the mat and coffee. Crafty business, if you ask me! After a much needed nap, I headed back out some of the remaining temples I hadn’t seen yet. It was a long few days of site seeing in some unbearable heat, and at times I wished I had a friend or fellow traveler with me, but at other times, I was happy to move at my own pace and take photos without being hurried. I was really happy when our third day of temple-seeing came to an end, because I was staying at a really sweet gusthouse, Okay 1 Villa, which provided a rooftop pool and clean room at $8 night. (Traveler tip: make sure to ask for the secret cheap rooms). I met a bunch of awesome people there, (you will get to see a bit of our antics in an upcoming post-Shout out to Lauren, Nadja, and Peter!), and rather than moving along, I decided to linger in Siem Reap for a while…and get into some trouble.

they were getting ready for a wedding…

this young lady made a tough sell for some water…. even though i already had some i couldn’t turn her down.

my lovely driver

i love these two pictures, this lady cracked such a smile for me!

this band is comprised of victims of land mines… it’s a genuine way to support land mine survivors and it also supports local traditional music

this nun gave me a blessing…

i climbed this steps, and it’s more dangerous than it looks!

i love this photo of this monk futzing with his camera phone!

this little boy came up to me and hugged me. didn’t ask for money just more hugs! gotta love it.

My Favorite Temples | Angkor Wat | Cambodia

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Angkor Wat is a massive complex of archeology, architecture, and forests from the 9th to the 15th century. It contains the remains of various capitals of the Khmer Empire, including Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple. Angkor Thom and the Bayon temple were two of my favorite temples in the complex. Bayon is also known as the Buddah temple because it has over 200 Buddah faces carved into it. The detail is stunning. Angkor Thom is believed to once have a population of over 1 million. As I wandered through the endless temple walls, I kept trying to imagine what life was like during Cambodia’s golden age. It’s truly hard to envision. Though Cambodia is known mostly for its temples and heart wrenching history, Cambodia is so much more than this, and absolutely fell in with it and the warmth and kindess of the Cambodian people I met. While I was descending upon one of the temples for sunset, I met a young girl named Sunday (she was born on sunday), we were both by ourselves in a large crowd of people, and she began making conversation. Sunday helps take care of her family following her mother’s death, (her dad has another family now and doesn’t live with her and her sisters). She hopes to one day be a tour guide around Angkor Wat and Siem Reap. Though our sunset was hindered by clouds, we had a lovely evening chatting about Cambodia, culture, and our aspirations.

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Angkor Wat Photos | Siem Reap | Cambodia

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

I’m not a serious history buff, but I must say Angkor Wat is one of the most spectacular pieces of world history that I have witnessed. It is the largest religious structure in the world, and to this day, is one of the most sacred sites for Cambodians. Over the next few entries, I will share with you a bit of Angkor’s history, beauty, and magic. With over 1,000 temples, this formerly thriving city is one of the most intricate wonders in the history of architecture. It’s hard to accurately convey the sheer size of Angkor Wat, and those who visit with the intention of spending a day, are often in shock of its grandeur. I spent 3 full days exploring Angkor Wat on motorcycle, and though utterly exhausting and painfully hot and humid, it was an experience of a lifetime.

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