AMY THOMPSON AVISHAI

Cambodia

Faith, Violence and Visitors

The complex of temples at Angkor, Cambodia, is a world-renowned tourist destination and historic site. A million people from all over the world visit every year. Yet for many Cambodian villagers, monks and nuns, Angkor is home.

This series is about the people who live in and around this national symbol. I was interested in their daily lives, their faith, and the effect of the tourism boom – all in the shadow of genocide and violence. I arrived sensitized by the simple words of a child telling me the story of her family during the rule of the Khmer Rouge. I followed the memoir page by page. It stayed with me.

My project sometimes took me to the popular tourist spots. I also spent time in lesser known villages, hidden in the jungle along the narrow paths between temples. The photographs are a result of intuitive wandering, anticipated moments, and an openness to allow one thing to lead to another. A chance conversation with a 15-year-old boy, for example led me to Angkor Kraw, a village established for landmine victims and their families.

  
A visitor finds a moment away from the crowds at the 10th century Phnom Bakheng temple.
  
A brother and sister sell art depicting the temples.
     
  
A Cambodian guide leads tourists along the second causeway of Angkor Wat.
  
A novice monk observes British backpackers at Phmom Bakheng, Cambodia
  
Hunting for frogs near Srah Srang South village, Cambodia
     
  
  
Family time at Angkor Kraw village
  
A child vendor plays with her merchandise, a sarong, as a temple guard looks on.
     
  
Leaving a wedding reception, Siem Reap, Cambodia
  
A Buddhist nun at the Bayon temple, Angkor Thom, Cambodia
  
A Buddhist ceremony for protection and good luck at Wat Preah Se A Metrey
     
  
Collecting alms
  
  
Mr. Lai, hotel worker, Siem Reap, Cambodia