Photo Essay: The People of Cambodia

If I had to choose one favourite country from my six month trip through Southeast Asia, it would have to be Cambodia. It is such an interesting country to visit. The historical and cultural sites of places such as the Temples of Angkor and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh are amazing, while the natural beauty of the countryside along with the sense of adventure that comes with exploring it makes for some very personal travel experiences. But when I really think about what I love so much about Cambodia, I realise that it is the people that make the country so great. Cambodians are some of the kindest, friendliest and most resilient people that I have ever met.

Cambodia is a poor country that has been through a lot, battling to recover from the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970’s where millions of people died. The survivors of the genocide along with the next generations have had to deal with the aftermath of this terrible time, which has been a huge wound to mend. Given the poverty and unstable economy and government in Cambodia, it is so surprising that the people are how they are. They are just lovely, always greeting you with a smile and doing what they can for their families. I found this most true in the country away from the cities, where the poorest people live. They have very little, and yet they seem happy. They look serious when in conversation, but also laugh a lot. There is a lot to be learned there.

In today’s photo essay I would like to focus on the people of Cambodia just going about their daily lives. These photos are from many different places in the country, from the cities of Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham to little rural villages in the countryside.

Father and son on a horse and cart on Koh Trong, Cambodia

A father and son on their horse and cart on Koh Trong

Kids on bicycles in Cambodia

Two kids get ready to ride their bicycles at a village outside Siem Reap

Man waiting next to his motorbike in Battambang, Cambodia

A man waits next to his motorbike in Battambang

Lady selling grilled meat skewers in Kampong Cham, Cambodia

A lady selling grilled meat skewers at the market in Kampong Cham

A man watches on in Kratie, Cambodia

Something captures a man’s interest while another guy watches on from his motorbike in Kratie

Two men play traditional Khmer music in Phnom Penh

Two men playing traditional Khmer music at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh

A mother walking along a road with her two children in Cambodia

A mother walks along a country road with her two young children

Man steering a boat on the Mekong River in Cambodia

A man steers his boat with an oar on the Mekong River in Kampi

Ladies selling their produce on the side of the road in Cambodia

Two ladies sell their produce on the side of the road at a village near Siem Reap

A man deep in thought in Kampong Cham, Cambodia

A man walks along deep in thought in Kampong Cham

Lady pushing a bicycle on Koh Trong, Cambodia

A lady pushing a bicycle along a dirt road on Koh Trong

Little girl selling vegetables on the side of the road in Cambodia

A little girl sells mushrooms and cucumbers for her family on the side of a country road in Western Cambodia

Group of people chatting at a village in Cambodia

A group of people chatting at a small village outside Siem Reap

A man with a helmet on in Battambang, Cambodia

A man with a motorbike helmet on gets ready to leave the market in Battambang

A lady holds her baby while riding a bicycle at a village in Western Cambodia

A lady holds her baby while riding a bicycle at a village in Western Cambodia

Lady selling flowers in Phnom Penh

A lady selling flowers in Phnom Penh

Man sitting in a hammock in Cambodia

A man sitting in a hammock at a small village near Siem Reap

Ladies selling durians in Kampong Cham, Cambodia

Ladies selling durians in Kampong Cham

Old lady cooking in a village in Cambodia

An old lady preparing food in a country village

People chatting at a market in Kratie, Cambodia

People chatting at the market in Kratie

Two guys having fun for a photo in Kampong Cham, Cambodia

Two guys have fun while posing for a photo in Kampong Cham

People on a boat in Kratie, Cambodia

Two ladies wait on a boat in Kratie, while a boy hops on board to take a seat

A tuk tuk driver waiting in Siem Reap, Cambodia

A tuk tuk driver waits for a fare in Siem Reap

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13 comments… add one
  • Dan Jan 5, 2014

    Great photos! Really captures Cambodia

  • Maria Falvey Jan 5, 2014

    Gorgeous portraits – I was there a few years ago, thanks for bringing the memories to the foreground for me.

    • Dean Wickham Jan 25, 2014

      Hi Maria. Glad I could bring back some memories for you 🙂

  • eemusings Jan 6, 2014

    I love this photo essay! Cambodia really touched my heart, for all the same reasons. I don’t plan to return, though – wasn’t a huge fan of the food and the climate.

    • Dean Wickham Jan 25, 2014

      Glad you liked the photos. I found that there was quite a lot of nice food in Cambodia, but I guess it depends what you like. As far as the climate goes, well that’s Southeast Asia – it’s going to be hot 😉

  • David Jan 10, 2014

    Great photo essay Dean! I agree with you Cambodia is one of the nicest countries in Asia. You really captured the everyday lifestyle of the locals. I like it. Usually people would just take pictures of the wonderful tourist spots, (temples, beach, mountains) it’s very seldom that they photos of what’s really happening there. Your photos say a lot. I can smell and hear the sounds of Cambodia just by looking at it. Keep taking pictures coz you really have a great talent and you’re inspiring so many people around the world like me. Good luck on your next travel!

    • Dean Wickham Jan 25, 2014

      Hi David, thanks for your comment and the kind words. I find that it is the people that make a country great, rather than the tourist sites, and so I find myself photographing them a lot more these days. They are what I remember the most from a country. Cheers!

  • KT Jan 10, 2014

    I like your photography skills. I do the same thing whenever I travel, I take photos of my surroundings, the people, the food, etc. Sometimes I video record using my point and shoot camera. 🙂

    • Dean Wickham Jan 25, 2014

      Hi KT. I think photos are the best souvenir you can get. They capture all of those great memories. I really need to try and take more video as well.

  • Great pictures! This is a pretty inspiring post for me. I’m in Cambodia right now and am really enchanted with the country. I like portrait photos but always feel it’s weird for me to take pictures of people, so I don’t do is as often as I would like. Seeing this has inspired me to give it a go.

    • Dean Wickham Jan 25, 2014

      Hey Cynthia. It’s good to hear that you are enjoying Cambodia as much as I did. I used to feel weird taking photos of people as well, but I find that I really enjoy it, so I’ve made myself take more photos of people on recent trips. Just ask nicely (the worst that can happen in they say no), or take a sneeky photo from a distance ;).

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