04/Nov/2015 | Australia
Hello everyone, I had the pleasure of spending 10 days with Ta in early November 2015 through "Peace of Angkor" tours. I had been to Angkor a few years earlier - Previously, I took a few good photographs (and many average and poor ones) but going alone or with a standard tour guide is not the same as with Ta. I needed to return and try and photograph parts of this huge temple complex with some expert help to capture the best light, try and avoid some of the biggest tourist crowds and get off the beaten track a little. With Ta's help I achieved all of this and a lot more.
My trip involved 5 days touring and photographing the "Remote Angkor" temples of northern Cambodia some distance away from the main Angkor sites followed by 4 days within the main Angkor complex. For the remote Angkor tour - If you're prepared to give up the 3- and 4-star hotels of Siem Reap, ride long rough roads with 4-WD, be polite and respectful to Ta and the supporting local people, be prepared to sometimes sleep in basic but comfortable village houses away from the tourist drags, eat simple but tasty khmer cuisine and get out of bed at 4.30am to capture the best morning light and work solidly all day then Ta will help you maximise your photography. That was my brief but he will cater for all kinds of photographers including day trippers wanting the best from their Siem Reap tour base. He's not there to tell you how to operate your camera equipment but he will often advise on compositions using his years of experience and he often pushed me to the limits finding new angles (in one case from the top of a ruined tower at one remote site) and trying many different creative aspects
I found Ta a fascinating companion throughout our trip, he's full of information on the local culture and history, an interesting character himself and he helped me maximise my photography to my best ability and appreciate everything Cambodia has to offer - which is a lot.
Aside from the photography it was an experience of a lifetime. Experiences from my trip include:
- exploring the ruins of Banteay Chmar in the dawn light with "gamlang" type music in the background drifting from the local village - MAGICAL.
- getting caught in a monsoon storm on the cliftops of Preah Vihear -the views and photography was stunning just before the storm hit.
- eating simple local cuisine of pork, pumpkin, lemongrass and rice washed down with Angkor beer - TASTY
- climbing an ancient pyramid at Koh Ker- DIFFERENT
- Walking the wide sandy paths through the leafy forests and temples of Sambor Prei Kuk - SPIRITUAL.
Then finally the faces of Bayon captured in sunlight just before another tropical storm - AMAZING AND AWESOME.
I'm already planning my next trip in 2016, something different but Ta will be the essential guide. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED