Cambodia was last country visited in January ’20 SE Asia Indochina tour. It ended as mixed bag; my whole life I wanted to see famous Angkor Wat, but ended up being disapointed. Oppressive heat and air pollution coupled with huge amount of people were main reasons. Still it is hard to completely dismiss this unique architectural site with mind blowing Khmer ruins. I rented bicycle and this is in my opinion best way to move around. Complex is HUGE and it would take at least a week to see everything properly, but I made most of my 3 days pass and visited most popular sites: Ta Prohm, Bayon and of course Angkor Wat main temple itself. I also woke up for fabled sunrise but it ended up way below expectations; best time from photography perspective is in Sep/Oct when sun rises directly above the Temple. However some of the murals, captured with high-end 70-300L Canon lens I hauled during entire trek, are superb!
Besides Angkor Wat I also spent few days in Phnom Penh - Tuol Sleng War Genocide Museum and Killing Fields left ever lasting impression. COVID-19 Pandemic emergence has put an unusual stamp on otherwise stellar SE Asia trip and facing global uncertainty like never before I hurried back to Canada. I’d like to come back to Angkor Wat at some other time as place simply breaths magnificence; this was just not the right time.
[Prison Cells in Tuol Sleng War Crimes Genocide Museum inside former school used by Khmer Rouge regime as Security Prison]
[Beautiful Happy Young Couple, A Man and Woman dressed in Formal Wedding Attire sitting on street in front of Royal Palace at Phnom Penh City Center]
[Buddha Statue Face and Ancient Khmer Architecture at Entrance Gate to Sangke Pagoda Budhhist Temple in Battambang]
[Massive Tree Roots growing out of Ancient Ta Prohm Khmer Temple Ruins, filming site of Tomb Raider Movie, in Angkor Wat. Angelina Jolie was not there!]
[Intricate Carving Mural Detail on Ancient Bayon Walls. Personal favorite photo from Angkor Wat; level of detail on 100% is astounding. This is where 70-300 lens really paid off]
[Monochrome or Black and White Image of Buddha Statue Head on Angkor Thom Gate to Angkor Wat]
[Wide Panoramic View of Entrance To Angkor Wat Main Temple with Sunrise Sky in the Background. Right side bridge is where you get into the complex; gate that opens at 5am is out of picture to the right]
And finally my poor excuse for Angkor Wat Sunrise. I got up at 4am, I cycled in the dark from Siem Reap with headlamp. I got to the gate at 4:45 am, then when they opened I sprinted across the bridge to get best spot by the pond. Setup tripod and waited over an hour as crowds piled up. There must have been over a 1000 people. And this. Very bad light, pollution, sun way on the right. I've seen many breathtaking pics of Angkor Wat Sunrise on Internet & really wanted to make one myself, but I just couldn't do it. Perhaps it was a sign to come back some day?
One thing when you travel as photographer in foreign country -- your time is limited. Here in Canada I know when is best light, where is best angle. I know what kind of gear to take. And of course I know I can always come back because it is here. Not quite so halfway across the world. You are there for a very short period of time and probably never again in your life. You learn lessons as you go but you need to be fast. At the end main lesson to stick with Angkor Wat is -- murals are the thing. I can offer many other advice for prospective photographer now -- if you are interested, ask.
Many more photos here