“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

Sunday, 10 March 2013

on reflection...

It's been a week since I returned now and I have had a little time to review the photos (all 1019 of them), I've even uploaded some (click here to view the first 165!) and spent 3 days working in Italy which gave me yet more flying time to reflect...
Cambodia as a country is a photographers dream, so many subjects, so much colour and so much history. The people are incredibly calm, almost submissive, happy and always pleased to help. The Buddhist religion is also clear throughout - but what sticks with me most are the opposites that are seen all over the country; sweaty rickshaw riders laden with goods bumping along in between the rich Lexus drivers in their air-conditioned cocoons. The holiest of ancient pagodas and immaculate temples perched on top of mountains that are completely covered with waves of
plastic bottles, clear plastic wrapping and general litter. We Westerners have a lot to answer for. Stunning scented flowers among lush green gardens so beautiful you have to stop and take it all in, but then turn your head to see a garishly-painted gold pagoda decorated with cheap plastic ornaments and gaudy-coloured murals. As a non-Buddhist it's hard for me to understand the thinking.
However, another dream trip has been ticked off the list and another set of lessons learnt (oh and another failed avocado stone);

1) Before any visit write to the sponsored child or contact the field worker beforehand and find out what would be a suitable gift rather than rely on the general guidelines issued by the UK office.
2) Don't bother with buying a Cambodian SIM card - WIFI coverage in Cambodia is incredible - even petrol stations and tiny cafes have it freely available.
3) Malaria is apparently not present in Cambodia and so no need to spend £3 per tablet on Malarone.
4) It's unbelievably hot... so it's not a good idea to go to an indoor Khmer BBQ unless you come from a hot country and are used to it!
I've learnt an immense amount this trip - not only about the country and it's customs and the various habitats that people choose to live in, but also about my camera and my photography in general. I often reached the limits of my beloved Pentax K7 - particularly where high ISO was required such as a shooting at dawn with no tripod. So I have treated myself to a new camera body - and after much research I have settled on the K5-II. Not ready to switch camps to another brand just yet. I have been loyal to Pentax since the day I started and so I feel compelled to stick with it. The reviews and write ups state that the K5-II improvements fall into two camps; ISO and AutoFocus - perfect! My focusing capability has always been dodgey and I've tended to give up with perfectly good lenses out of sheer frustration because I cannot get anything sharp - a new improved body will give me a reason to try again with the last new lens I bought, which I'm ashamed to say I have had for over a year and used twice.

So where to next? My list still includes a few specifics - bears salmon fishing in Alaska, elephant trekking in search of the tigers of India, and of course a return to the wetlands of South America to catch a glimpse of the elusive and highly spiritual Jaguar - but given the success of this trip  perhaps I should look at other places that don't focus on wildlife instead. So until the next time, ideas are always welcome. :-)

1 comment:

  1. Much enjoyed reading your blog Jo.... great pictures so far too, i look forward to seeing the rest once you've had time to go through them all.... i'm surprised you took so few ;) not sure you can blame westerners for the amount of rubbish strewn across their country, it has as much to do with culture, ignorance and maybe a lack of pride... mind you, if you live in poverty in a slum with no clean running water or proper sanitation you aren't really going to be concerned about general rubbish... it sounds like they don't have much of a recycling industry like they do in most of India.... it's a pity that such a beautiful country is spoiled by such contrasts but what's the answer?