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Chris Cusick Photography

Photo Credit: Chris Cusick Photography

By Courtney Ridgel

We are very excited to send our guests to our photographer partner, Chris Cusick, who is based out of Siem Reap, Cambodia.  Chris has been living and working in Cambodia since 2014, and when he isn’t working with guests, he is scouting out new locations and expanding his expert knowledge of the area.

The Angkor Temples are so intriguing and beautiful that around 2.1 million people visit them each year.   As many travelers discover, sometimes a series of selfies don’t do justice to the real thing.  If you’d like better mementos, we recommend adding Chris’s photo shoot services to your tour.  As your guide shows you through the temples, explaining their history, Chris will tag along and quietly take some incredible shots of you surrounded by ancient and spectacular monuments and carvings.  We especially recommend these photos for families and couples, to preserve your memories of your time in this incredible place.

For our guests who love to spend time behind the camera instead, a full day or half day with Chris can be the perfect addition to your tour.  Chris specializes in travel photography, photography workshops and showing guests the best angles and shots in the temples of Angkor.  He has worked with photographers of all skill levels, so he can easily adjust to your needs – whether you want to learn your way around the camera, you want a workshop to improve your technique, or if you simply want someone to point out those unique shots and views to capture the essence of Cambodia and Angkor.

Photo Credit: Chris Cusick Photography

We are so excited to be working with Chris and we love his work!  If either option listed above interests you, be sure to mention it to your tour consultant.  In addition to his website, you can find more of Chris’s travel photography work on Instagram at chriscusickphoto, or on his Facebook page.

All photos included in this blog are the property of Chris Cusick Photography.

Village life

One of Siem Reap’s many squatters’ villages is a short walk from the Journeys Within B&B. JWOC built its first wells there and I went to check it out with Brandon and some volunteer students from Loyola Marymount University. Brandon wants to get a business started that the JWOC scholarship students can run themselves, so we went into the village to research business ideas and assess the need for different services.

There are places blocked off where potential roads will go if they’re ever built, but for now the village is connected by a sequence of dusty tan trails. Some structures are built with corrugated metal or wood and seem relatively sound, while others are thatched with palm leaves or draped with tarps.

Because of the nonprofit projects most of the villagers have seen Westerners, but it’s still a treat for them when we arrive. They all know how to say “hello” and as soon as they spot you a harmony of hellos hits you from all angles. Groups of kids rush over wanting to show you things, while the shy ones gather to watch from a distance. I was just another giant white lady with a camera, but with this kind of welcome you would’ve thought I was Brangelina.

The kids love to get their picture taken and they’ll follow you around in hopes of getting their chance. Their favorite part is seeing themselves on the photo playback screen and they run away giggling as soon as they see their faces on the monitor.

As we walked back to the B&B—a short distance from poverty to luxury—I tried to imagine living without a toilet or electricity and what it must be like to put what little money you have into a “house” that could be destroyed any day.

What really resonated with me was the overall mood of the village. For all their hardship, the people were in great spirits. Everyone was smiling, the kids were running around and playing in the rain, the adults were chatting and playing cards. I expected it to be a bit more somber, but it was actually pretty upbeat.

Maybe they’re making lemonade, or maybe it’s just a Cambodian thing. I don’t think I’ve witnessed a happier, friendlier group of people anywhere. Each country has a different draw: gorgeous beaches, great food, beautiful sights, and although Cambodia has all of those things, the real draw is the people. Their smiles and good hearts are the reason you want to return.