A Magical Cambodian Christmas…

Back in ’05, I was in a bit of a dilemma as I could not head back home for Christmas due to certain permanent resident issues (with the US government), so I was in need of a destination to spend the final two weeks of ’05.  Having just watched the Killing Fields and read a book about SE Asian history, Cambodia quickly came to mind and I booked the trip.

While my main itinerary included basic accommodations, I did make one tweak to my plan and arrange to stay at two historic, colonial hotels: the Raffles Le Royal in Phnom Penh and Grand Hotel D’Angkor in Siem Reap.  The history that filled these hotels is incredible: great adventurers, statesmen and royalty made these places their home.

The Le Royal in Phnom Penh triggered the most interest for me as it was the headquarters for foreign photojournalists during the Khmer Rouge reign from 1975-79.  In the movie the Killing Fields (highly recommended before any travel to Cambodia), several of the scenes were shot in the hotel.

Staying there was a very strange feeling, as it is truly living in the lap of luxury: nicest place I have ever, and probably will ever stay.  Yet the hotel also holds such a strong link to colonization and perhaps most important to Cambodians, the time of the Khmer Rouge rule where some of the worst atrocities of genocide and persecution have ever taken place.

Over the next few days, I will post some basic photos I took during this time, and how I walked away from Cambodia with an uplifted spirit.  The people of this country have persevered and live life with a passion and love that I have rarely seen.  Include this with a beautiful country full of mystery, historical building and ruins, and I will return.

The below photo is of the LeRoyal Hotel in Phnom Penh, and I did take as much joy as possible at this hotel.

FYI: while I did splurge and stay a night at each of these hotels, I would not recommend it unless you have the cash…quite expensive, and with all the beautiful sights to see I spent minimal time back at any hotel.  When I do a photography trek, I prefer to stay at very modest hotels – as long as they have electricity (to power my computer & recharge batteries) and a bed, I am happy as I generally only spend time at the hotel to sleep & recharge.  1 and 2-Star guesthouses are generally perfect for serving this purpose.  When traveling with friends or loved-ones, go to at least a 3-Star unless they too want to share the adventure 🙂

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As We Begin our Journey of Yuan Fen – 缘分

The beginning of China Sojourns Photography (作客中国摄影) is a simple project that will consist of posting photos from China and around the world.  As I post these photos, I will also comment on the mood of the place and hopefully some useful photographic techniques as well.

While the focus is on photography, there will also be occasions when the mood strikes that philosophy via photography will be combined.  Often I believe that while writing & photography is generally a solitary pursuit, it is the inspiration of others that allows us to create: the sharing of ideas and learning.

As such, the theme for this site will be “us”.  Two souls dancing and learning as we move forward in life.

Us Dancing

The definition of “Us” in this blog can be explained by the Chinese word 缘分 (yuan-fen).  

There is no direct translation of 缘分 (yuan-fen) to English.  It is often link to Buddhism and karma and defined as ‘pre-ordained affinity/fate/destiny’, where destiny awaits your action when opportunities arise.  This means, that while it may be fate two people should meet, whether they stay together is up to yuan-fen and destiny.  Yuan (缘) brings two people together, and Fen (分) is the work necessary to fulfill this destiny.  When you choose to take or forego an opportunity, 缘分 (yuan-fen) has arrived and depending on your commitment, becomes a part of your life forever. 

It is in this blog that I hope to expand on the 缘分 (yuan-fen) between us, increasing our value and happiness.  

Through contemplation & through the lens of a camera are where many ideas of life are created.  The constant search to find a choice moment in time where an idea will transpire via words or a photo to bring inspiration is a daily goal.  I see inspiration every day in the people I know.  Ideas are what keeps us dancing.

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