Cambodia: Part Two

A typically rainy, dry season day

The worst of the downpour in the Central Market, Phnom Penh. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 60 mm Macro. 1/160 s, f/2.8, ISO 400.
The worst of the downpour in the Central Market, Phnom Penh. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 60 mm Macro. 1/160 s, f/2.8, ISO 400.

The weather’s a funny old thing. When you arrive somewhere in the “dry” season, the last thing you expect to need is stout boots and a waterproof jacket. Oh, the trials of the logical decision process when packing for a month away… Today has been fraught with torrential rain, and reasonable winds, leading to the locals I encountered feeling cold (even if it was a rather pleasant 21ºC at its lowest). Never one to shy away from prolonged exposure to the elements, I ventured out to the market as planned (because I needed to obtain an umbrella).

A jumble of fruit at a stall in the Central Market, Phnom Penh. Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1 with Olympus 17 mm f/2.8. 1/25 s, f/2.8, ISO 800.
A jumble of fruit at a stall in the Central Market, Phnom Penh. Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1 with Olympus 17 mm f/2.8. 1/25 s, f/2.8, ISO 800.

I wasn’t compromised in terms of gear: I fitted the OM-D with the 60 mm Macro (the only fully weather-sealed combination I have on this trip), and carried the PEN Mini and OM-2n in my Billingham waist pack. I was able to open up the waist pack under cover in the market; out of cover, it never let any water through, alleviating my fears of a zip closure being feeble in the rain.

A girl cycles down an alley near the Central Market, Phnom Penh, in spite of the heavy rain. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 60 mm Macro. 1/160 s, f/2.8, ISO 400.
A girl cycles down an alley near the Central Market, Phnom Penh, in spite of the heavy rain. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 60 mm Macro. 1/160 s, f/2.8, ISO 400.

The market adopted a different aesthetic to combat the precipitation: inverted stools lined with bags, bowls, pots and pans were strewn about to collect water from leaks in the tarpaulin roof over many parts of the market. People were adorned with brightly coloured plastic ponchos, whilst water spouted ferociously onto the floor from above at every join in the roof. These violent jets were eventually tamed by the addition of thick plastic tubes to guide them from the roof to less trafficked parts of the floor.

The Central Market of Phnom Penh, as viewed from the Asia Hotel. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 60 mm Macro. 1/320 s, f/5.6, ISO 200.
The Central Market of Phnom Penh, as viewed from the Asia Hotel. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 60 mm Macro. 1/320 s, f/5.6, ISO 200.

The central hall of the market was more alive than usual, as people sought out the best shelter from the prevailing weather. It’s the busiest I can recall having seen it for a while. Then again, it’s quite some time since I was last here.

Shopping for jewellery in the central hall of the Central Market in Phnom Penh. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 60 mm Macro. 1/500 s, f/2.8, ISO 1600.
Shopping for jewellery in the central hall of the Central Market in Phnom Penh. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 60 mm Macro. 1/500 s, f/2.8, ISO 1600.

Elsewhere in the city, tuk tuks were zipped up with heavy vinyl covers, ponchos were donned, and life continued as usual. Not even roadworks or drain-laying were delayed due to the rain; they kept pushing through; though I question the temeritous use of a hammer drill with the power cord lying on a drenched footway.

 A lone tuk tuk approaches Monivong Boulevard, Phnom Penh. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 60 mm Macro. 1/640 s, f/2.8, ISO 200.
A lone tuk tuk approaches Monivong Boulevard, Phnom Penh. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 60 mm Macro. 1/640 s, f/2.8, ISO 200.
Motorcycles swarm in a queue of traffic on Monivong Boulevard. Olympus OM- D E-M5 with Olympus 60 mm Macro. 1/125 s, f/2.8, ISO 250.
Motorcycles swarm in a queue of traffic on Monivong Boulevard. Olympus OM- D E-M5 with Olympus 60 mm Macro. 1/125 s, f/2.8, ISO 250.
Temeritous (though exceptionally high quality) work being undertaken on the footway near the Central Market, Phnom Penh. Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1 with Olympus 17 mm f/2.8. 1/160 s, f/8, ISO 200.
Temeritous (though exceptionally high quality) work being undertaken on the footway near the Central Market, Phnom Penh. Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1 with Olympus 17 mm f/2.8. 1/160 s, f/8, ISO 200.

After my dance in the rain, I had a short reprieve, before looking around Phnom Penh through the window of a van. It was again interesting to see how much had changed since my last visit, though slightly disheartening to see the effects of this year’s flooding (and today’s downpour) on the outskirts of the capital. Many buildings I remember in their prime have fallen into disrepair, though it was nice to see a number of new developments providing valuable employment and forming a springboard for future opportunities.

Phnom Penh by night

Shops in a back street of Phnom Penh after dark. Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1 with Olympus 17 mm f/2.8. 1/20 s, f/2.8, ISO 6400.
Shops in a back street of Phnom Penh after dark. Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1 with Olympus 17 mm f/2.8. 1/20 s, f/2.8, ISO 6400.

After a brief re-acquaintance with the city, I was fortunate enough to have dinner with a relative at their house in a back street. The weather obviously agreed, as it cleared into a mild evening, with scant traces of cloud serving as a reminder of the day that preceded it. This capped off my evening, and the first Phnom Penh visit of this trip. Tomorrow, I will be heading out to Prey Veng, where the Cambodian side of my family comes from. I will cover that in my next two posts. Save for the photo after this paragraph, that’s it for tonight.

A Phnom Penh back street by night. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 60 mm Macro. 1/8 s, f/2.8, ISO 1600.
A Phnom Penh back street by night. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 60 mm Macro. 1/8 s, f/2.8, ISO 1600.
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