Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Second Visit)

Phnom Penh isn’t the most scenic city in Cambodia.  Most tourists only stay long enough to see the Tuol Sleng Museum and the Killing Fields before heading off to Angkor or the beach, which is exactly what I did when I first visited four years ago.  This time, though, I stayed longer, and gradually I began to find a gritty, dilapidated charm in the city.

After Marie flew home I could have taken the next bus back to Siem Reap and then on to Thailand, but instead I decided to hang out in Phnom Penh for a few more days.  I had a week’s worth of photos to work through and a bunch of blog entries to write, and I wanted to visit the Lakeside School again.

Drew was out of town, but he put me in touch with Phearith, one of the local volunteers at Lakeside, and on Wednesday afternoon I went back to the school to take some more photos and observe an English class.  The week before I’d arrived so late that it was almost dark out, but this time I had a full hour of daylight to photograph the kids who hang out in front of the school.

 

Four Kids in Front of Lakeside School

 

Girl and Boy in Front of Lakeside School

 

B&W Portrait of Girl in Front of Lakeside

 

Girl Holding Baby in Front of Lakeside

 

Girl on Train Tracks

 

Boy in Lakeside Doorway

 

Portrait of Boy at Lakeside

 

Phearith in Lakeside Doorway

 

When Kids Attack (Video)

 
As I mentioned in a previous post, the Lakeside School borders what is now a large construction project.  The Cambodian government is in the process of filling in most of the Boeung Kok lake to make room for more development, and the area in front of the school has become a large field of sand dotted with drainage pipes and random pools of polluted water.  In the late afternoon a rainbow appeared over this scene, and as the sunlight faded the rainbow evolved from the normal ROYGBIV stripe into some kind of strange red glow I’d never seen before.

 

Rainbow Over Boeung Kok and Drainpipes

 

Rainbow Over Boeung Kok

 

Strange Sunset Rainbow Over Boeung Kok

 


The Scene in Front of Lakeside School (Video)

 

The class started at 5:30 that evening.  The teacher, who spoke very good English, spent an hour working on adjectives.

 

Class Starting at Lakeside School

 

Lakeside Class

 

English Class at Lakeside School (Video)

 

Lakeside School After Sunset

 

Once again, if you might be interested in supporting the work being done at Lakeside and EYC’s other schools, please let me know and I’ll connect you with Drew.  I didn’t have a chance to meet the student Marie and I are going to sponsor, but it was great to be able to visit the school again.  Thanks very much, Drew and Phearith!

The next morning I followed what had become my usual Phnom Penh routine of waking up before dawn to take photos of the sun rising over the Tonle Sap.  My hotel was right on the river, so all I had to do was roll out of bed and stumble across the street.   That morning a hotel employee walked out with me to see what I was doing at such an early hour.

“You make photo sunrise?” he asked as I set up my tripod.

“Yes, I’m going to photograph the sunrise,” I told him.

He seemed confused by this and became thoughtful before asking a follow-up question.  “You no have sunrise in your country?”

 

Boats on the Tonle Sap at Sunrise