Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to visit Cambodia in South East Asia for a photography workshop. This workshop was an amazing adventure and this beautiful place had me overwhelmed from the beginning.
Here I saw some colours I had never seen before, sounds I hadn’t heard before, food that I hadn’t tasted before and air that was intriguingly fresh and natural. Cambodia is a water-locked country and an agrarian economy. Cambodians, like the citizens of any under-developed country, face a lot of perils in daily life, but i was awestruck by the calm acceptance and forgiving attitude in the face of problems.
On one of my mini projects in Cambodia, I visited the small town named Kampong Phluk which is a floating town located on Tonle Sap River. Known for its innate charm and the wooden stilts which resembles an Elephant’s husk, this place is really isolated and the people living here face a lot of challenges in their everyday life.
Fragile bamboo houses form the residential space, and the swampy river surrounding them is often disease infested. At night, apart from the despair which shines in most eyes for having to lead such a tough life, the only other source of light are battery powered torches.
This darkness was unique as it helped me get closer to the people of Kampong Phluk and establish an unsaid understanding and mutual respect. Looking at the pictures, one would feel that these people have accepted the darkness as a part of their lives, and have molded themselves around it. In other words, these people have mastered the skills to survive in these tough conditions. Their own little world is their temple, and despite the commonly perceived inhospitality which urged many local authorities to warn me not to visit this village during the dark, I couldn’t resist the charm this place offers.
I am glad to have followed my gut, as the darkness of Kampong Phluk is merely a deceptive cover to the hope and beauty one sees here upon digging just a little deeper.
Photographs & Text: Chandan Khanna | Website: http://www.chandankhanna.com
Roshini by Chandan Khanna is one of our top projects made by young photographers at this year’s Angkor Photo Workshops.