Modern Cambodia has a population of 16 million and covers 70,000 square miles of the southern Indochina peninsula of South East Asia. It is bordered by Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam and is mostly a flat flood-plain of the Mekong River and therefore a major rice growing area. Cambodia’s recent history is a very troubled one with civil war, communist uprisings, carpet bombing by the US and the terrible genocide of the Pol Pot regime. But for many centuries the Khmer, or Angkor, Empire ruled over most of South East Asia and the majestic temples of Angkor Wat and Bayon bear testimony to the immense power and wealth, sophisticated art and culture and Hindu-Buddist belief systems of the Khmers. The ancient city of Angkor, at its peak between the 11th and 13th centuries, was the largest urban centre in the world. The empire began in 800 AD (two centuries before the Norman Conquest of England) when the King Jayavarman II declared himself “king of the world” and ended with the fall of Angkor in the 15th Century. We visited in early 2019 to photograph the temples that are the lasting record of this great Empire. There are over 1,000 ancient temples in Cambodia, many still hidden in jungle, but visiting the more remote sites is difficult and dangerous – Cambodia still has a major land mine problem – six million were laid and many remain undiscovered (there are currently over 40,000 amputees). We hope you enjoy our photographs – they are dedicated to the gentle people of Cambodia who have survived so much.
© Gigi & Robin Williams Photography