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Sihanoukville, Cambodia (Part I) [17 IMG]
Lens: DA 18-55 WR + DA 55-300 Camera: K-5 Photo Location: Sihanoukville, Cambodia ISO: 400 Shutter Speed: 1/250s Aperture: F8 
Posted By: Ash, 05-24-2011, 03:26 AM

Also known as Kampuchea, this country has had its ups and downs since the tumultuous past of the Vietnam war and Khmer Rouge era. But from a tourist’s point of view, the coastal town of Sihanoukville has quite a lot to offer. It may not be as clean as Singapore or Malaysia (but then where is?) but it certainly caters for the traveller on a budget. The main problem is that literacy in the country is quite poor, and the command of the English language by the locals even poorer. They did have a welcoming party to greet us upon arrival, though:

Their national currency is so undervalued they’ve started using US dollars for transactions of more than $2 in value. But just about everything there can be found cheap:

Their markets are filled with counterfeit Gucci, D&G, Versace and Ray Ban sunglasses and other women’s accessories at knock off prices. What struck me most was the insidious poverty amongst much of the society there. Not much in the way of industry, and limited primary resources, makes the town struggling for a way forward.

A full load

Another full load

Dirt road

The men spend their days fighting for clients to shuttle around in their tiny motorbikes, hassling every potential customer (especially foreigners) for a ride. For those who have a little more, their bikes are fitted with seated trailers and a canopy (called a touk-touk):

This makes for a safer ride, compared to multiple passengers on a motorbike, from which the driver can charge a little more for the service. The women spend both day and night catering for the family, and for others by means of a roadside eatery or marketplace trading.

Some young women spend their nights trying to make a quick buck selling their bodies. This country has a high availability of prostitution despite it being illegal, and is as overt as you can imagine. This is one upmarket lodge's effort to keep its reputation:

Sometimes deals are closed during daylight hours:

This is a poster produced at a national level, displayed even in schools:
The message: don't sell your children to sex slavery...

Sihanoukville school had next to nothing. Just desks and chairs, a blackboard and some chalk. The kids, delightful as any. Full of joy.

Reports such as this one are troubling, indicating over 15,000 prostitutes in the capital city alone: Cambodia - Facts on Trafficking and Prostitution. On an evening walk to check out the local bar area for some photos, I had a number of these young women literally throw themselves in my path, coming up face to face with me, hands reaching out as if for an embrace. One look into their eyes and it was plain to see they would rather not do what they do for money. And where it all starts is quite worrying: Children for sale - Dateline NBC - Organisations such as Hagar International | are a shining light for these young children sold into the sex trade in this country.

Picture of Poverty

A glimmer of hope (I believe this child has a great future ahead of her)

Continues in Part 2 of 2: Sihanoukville, Cambodia - Part II

Last edited by Ash; 05-24-2011 at 06:00 AM.
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05-24-2011, 04:42 AM   #2
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A terrific "documentary", Ash - fascinating reading and the photos are great. I look at these pictures and I'm reminded how well off my family and I are.

Nice job. You must be taking a very grand tour!

05-24-2011, 05:07 AM   #3
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superlative series ash.... quite the tour through your interpretative lens(es)... love those room rates... really makes us realize how fortunate we are..... dave m
05-24-2011, 05:57 AM   #4
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Thanks Jer and Dave.
I did want this to be more reportage style, beating down the back streets for photo opportunities rather than just doing the tourist run, so I hope it's turned out interesting.
Indeed, we ought to be thankful each day for what we have.
This discussion comes to mind: What do we deserve? [Why?] -
We can each make a difference wherever we are.

05-24-2011, 10:10 PM   #5
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A couple more from the collection:

Market traders

Water feature at the Sihanoukville monastery (more photos from this in another thread coming up soon...)
05-25-2011, 03:58 PM   #6
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8th picture is beautiful.
05-25-2011, 04:20 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcarvalhoalves Quote
8th picture is beautiful
Thanks - she was very kind to allow me to take her portrait, and wanted to know if I could take her with me to Australia (from her sign language ). After I showed her a photo of my family, she was satisfied that I was already taken and bode me farewell.

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