CAMBODIA - one of the worlds greatest civilizations
Cambodia is an amazing country with a history going back many hundreds of years. Cambodian culture had its origins in the South Indian traders who sailed to South East Asia as early at the 7th century.
Kampuchea developed in to a major trading nation; exploiting the wealth created by the fishing and farming around the Tonle Sap Lake. It was this wealth which enable the Ancient Khmers to build great cities; temples, roads and sophisticated irrigation systems.
Angkor Wat is the starting point for your adventure. The walled city of Angkor Thom has magnificent faced gates and the enigmatic smiles of the Bayon at its heart.
The mysterious temples that surround Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom were part of a vast city over 100 sq kms and over one million population.
Beng Mealea Monk
The remote jungle temples sites like Beng Mealea, Koh Ker, Banteay Chhmar & Preah Vihear are stunning sites to visit . They have lot of human interest too!
Fisherman Kompong khleang
Cambodia's great lake is the largest in SE Asia it the more remote lake communities we visit are a photographic paradise especial for people & bird watching photography .
Fishing near Battembang
Cambodia's towns and countryside have friendly locals and almost endless photo opportunities. Cambodia country are areas are rich with culture and unique wildlife too!
Tiger at Ta Kmao
Cambodia has a lot of remote undeveloped areas which are home to elephants, bears, apes, leopards and even a few tigers.
The Prek Toal Bird sanctuary has tens of thousands of waterbirds including many endangered species. The Mekong River has a small population of the freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins.
Dave giving photo advice
The Peace of Angkor website has always been a useful source of photography advice and information for travelers to Cambodia.
Our new site continues this; with up to date advice to make your experience well informed & enjoyable!
The great Khmer Empire.
Harihara statue Sambor
The Hindu settlers brought with them their religion and customs and built the first Pre-Angkorian City of Sambor Pre Kuk in the 7th Century. The Hindu influence continued for centuries. The Khmer God Kings built huge cities and temples on a grand scale. Gradually the Hindu influence diminished with The Khmer Empire becoming a Buddhist Kingdom in the 14th Century.
The Khmer Empire grew to a point where it extended over all of South East Asia including much of Vietnam and Thailand. It was a huge powerful country which was fuelled by wealth from farming and fishing from the great Tonle Sap Lake; the Largest in SE Asia
The Empire Falls
battles depicted on bas releifs
No one knows exactly why the great Khmer Empire collapsed. There are many theories for the decline; however it is most likely that the Khmer Empire outgrew its sustainability. Crops failed due to the inability to maintain the irrigation systems; due in part to wars between Siam and the Chams from Vietnam. .
The great cities were eventually abandoned to the jungle and remained unknown by the outside world for centuries. Although abandoned and derelict, there were still people living among these great ruins. Contrary to popular belief, Angkor Wat has always been occupied by monks and villagers; so was never a lost city at all.
The French Occupation
In the 19th century,Cambodia became part of French Indochina; which covered all of Laos and Vietnam as well. Explorer Henri Mouhot gave himself credit for the re-discovery of Angkor in the 18th Century; however he did not tell the world until he had shipped vast amounts of Khmer Art to his native France.
At the beginning of the 20th Century The French developed towns and improved the road system. Phnom Penh became a highly developed and sophisticated city and was known as the Pearl Of Asia.
The French influence can be seen all over Cambodia with the European architecture, infrastructure and food. The French influence continued until 1952 when Cambodia became an independent nation again under the popular King Shihanouk.
A humanitarian disaster!
Skulls at Kiling Fields
Sadly Independence did not bring stability and prosperity. War in Indochina in the 1950s and 1960s brought Cambodia into conflict; with illegal raids by the USA against the Viet Kong . The damage was severe; but the great monuments of Angkor were spared. In the mid 1970s Pol Pot tried to make Kampuchea great again by following the teachings of his Idol Mao Tse Tung. The disaster which befell Kampuchea by the Khmer Rouge and the millions of lives wasted continued for several years. Many thousands were senselessly slaughtered and millions perished due to famines, land mines and the civil war.
The Vietnamese liberated Cambodia in 1979; but the Civil War continued until the Death Of Pol Pot of natural causes near Anlong Veng in 1989
A New Beginning!
Through the 1980s and 1990s Cambodia began to rebuild itself to its status as ’Nation Religion King ’ with its constitutional monarchy. The Cites of Phnom Penh have grown and developed and tourism has played a big part in the economy of; what is still among the world’s poorest nations.
Things have changed quite a bit since I came here in 2003.
Big improvements in infrastructure and the clearance of land mines have made many remote areas safe to travel. Siem Reap has grown from a town to a city; but the charm old Siem Reap and the warmth and friendship of the people here has not changed a bit.
All Text and Imagery on this site is © Dave Perkes www.peaceofangkorphoto.com
Peace of Angkor Tours is western owned and operating photo and adventure tours in Cambodia since 2003.
Our Comprehensive Peace Of Angkor Tours website gives general information, full tour details and reservation by credit card,
Head Office: Peace Of Angkor Tours # 435 Street 20 Wat Bo, Siem Reap, Cambodia