Against all odds, I managed to finish my first roll of film earlier this week. Since I’m back in Phnom Penh for the night, I put the film in for developing, and asked them to scan it, since scanning is now available routinely. The quoted three day turnaround turned was realised within four hours, so I’m posting three of the photos here for your delectation. The digital counterparts to these photos are viewable in Part One and Part Two of my series of Cambodia posts.
One thing which has become evident in viewing the majority of the scans is that I’ve been somewhat spoilt by image stabilisation in digital cameras; there’s some noticeable camera shake from using slower shutter speeds than I ought to. Then again, maybe I’m just too pedantic. However, it does add a dynamism to the photos, which reflects the bustle permeating the atmosphere.
Looking through the photos off the OM-2n has also been an exercise in why I love that camera so much, especially when it’s loaded with one of my favourite film emulsions. Everything falls into place quite naturally, and there’s a look and feel to the photos which I don’t think digital (good as it is) will ever fully emulate or replace.
The OM-2n is currently loaded with a roll of Ektar 100. The contents of that film (and any subsequent films I shoot) will be uploaded in a couple of weeks when I return to Phnom Penh and have the opportunity to get them developed and scanned.
Chok Chey (and the local bus)
I had another night in Chok Chey, so feel I should post another few photos I took there yesterday (and this morning).
I haven’t got as many from last night as I do from my first night. Due to a wiring fault in the house, my battery charger for the OM-D died, meaning I was somewhat limited in how many photos I could take, for fear of completely draining the one battery with remaining charge. Fortunately, this was resolved by purchase of two aftermarket travel chargers from the same camera shop who processed and scanned my film. Better still, they actually work.
There was one major difference with last night’s stay: the temperature. It’s the coldest I can remember Cambodia ever having been at this time of year, to the point where I managed to get a bout of back pain from an overnight breeze which I would once have praised for keeping me cool in the heat of the night. I shouldn’t really complain, as the overnight low was around 20ºC, which is still quite warm by most standards. However, it must be borne in mind that, thanks to climate change and corresponding changes in weather (such as typhoons) in neighbouring countries, this is something which will become a fixture. It will be interesting to see how the locals adapt when that comes to fruition.
To make it back to Phnom Penh, we took the local bus. It’s affordable, and quite an interesting experience. It may range from reasonably pleasant to death’s door, depending on the driver you get, and how many joins in the bodywork of the bus still have some structural function. There are no set stops along the route, with people often phoning ahead, or simply flagging the bus down. Besides carrying people, the bus also serves as a freight truck, post van, and, according to this morning’s experience, vehicle transporter. Motor scooters don’t make the most talkative of fellow passengers to sit near, as it turns out…
Shortly after arriving in Phnom Penh, I was treated to my first close encounter with a protest group. As I understand it, they were protesting against the Government. Happily, things were more peaceful than the scenes of anti-Government protests I’ve seen from other countries through the media during the course of the year. From what I saw, the police kept their sidearms in their holsters throughout, and directed traffic in such a way as to ensure the protest could proceed, while not holding up those who were unable (or unwilling) to participate.
It was a remarkable sight: tens of thousands on foot, motorbike, tuk tuk, in cars and coaches, ambling along Monivong Boulevard to applause from street level and balconies, and bemused looks from foreigners. Through tannoys on strategically placed tuk tuks throughout the procession, slogans were shouted, to be answered by a cacophony of voices from those eagerly participating in the protest. By the time they returned in early evening, their numbers had doubled, their enthusiasm for their cause unassailed, and their voices stronger.
After a fairly eventful afternoon, I was too weary to do any night photography as planned. That should hopefully happen sometime in the next couple of posts, and this seems like as good a place as any to wrap up for the day.