“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins

Monday, 25 February 2013

Battambang to Siem Reap

Luxurious hotel with huge breakfast selection and proper air con for only $28 per night, only problems were the lack of hot water (thankfully a cold shower was my preference this morning anyway) and we didn't get time to use the pool. Feeling run down today, not getting anywhere near my usual amount of sleep; to quote a very thought-provoking man who died 19 years ago tomorrow, "I need my sleep. I need eight hours a day and about ten at night" - and even with the hours in the van it's impossible to catch up on sleep with major potholes every few hundred yards.  Not entirely convinced our driver (Naro) has a licence either. He doesn't seem to know the order the gears go in or what the accelerator is for. Our van is now in serious need of a new clutch and/or gearbox - if it didn't before.
We started with a 3-shot assignment from the bossman Eric; he took us into Battambang town and stopped outside a building which housed an indoor market - an impossibly dark one too.  He told us we had one hour to return with 3 shots, and only 3 shots. The rest had to be deleted. The first was to be a portrait of someone older than 15 with a clear background. The second had to feature the colour red as its' main/only colour and the third had to depict typical Cambodia. He said he would not be coming with us but would wait by the van and wished us good luck. We set off to put our new skills into practice and all went our separate ways pretty much as soon as we entered the building.
The portrait (I thought would be the hardest for me) I tackled first. At the entrance to the market was the textiles section where I met a man making wigs on a sewing machine - we chatted (smiling and miming), but he wasn't happy to have his picture taken so I moved on and on and on, until I came to the next section which was mainly jewellery makers and it was here I got my shot. A jeweller with his magnifying glasses on his head. Eric later stated he liked the composition but that the shot was blurry - best I get to specsavers when I get home as it looked fine to me!  My red image Eric really liked - a carrot grater on top of an old burnt red coolbox - I quite like it too, although what it would ever be used for I have no idea. The third image turned out to be the hardest of all for me, and took the longest. Mainly because a couple of little boys kept wanting to be in the shot.  We went to the Gecko Cafe for Eric to critique our work and discovered that Mum and I had taken between 30 and 40 shots each and then deleted most to leave the 3 we were asked for, but Greg it turns out had taken 711 in an hour and had not really deleted any! I think Eric might have his work cut out changing Greg's snap-happy habits. We headed back to the hotel to check out and make the journey to Siem Reap. It was already much hotter than in the South. Despite repeated attempts to get Naro to step on it, the two hour journey still took us over three, by which point I was starving and in desperate need of a loo - and not the Cambodian-crouch kind either.
The hotel is where Eric's wife is the assistant manager, so we at least have a translator on hand. However, it's not up to the standard of the last two. Aircon not working, grotty bathroom with mosquitoes in and no bed netting. Still I requested a can of bug killer, had lunch which was gorgeous and we set off for a private photo shoot with some monks at Angkor Wat who unfortunately failed to turn up.  It's a major Buddhist festival today and so apparently the monks weren't allowed out.  We have rescheduled it for 9.30am tomorrow when we finish the sunrise shoot at the main temple of Angkor Wat.
Before dinner men came to have a look at my air con, they washed the filters, changed the gas and it now seems to be at least making some noise and blowing some air, so with any luck I will get some sleep. It's an early one tomorrow, we are being collected by tuk-tuk at 5am (ouch!!!!!) so I need to get my head down.
Photos to follow as still downloading - wifi speed sadly not great here either.

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