I just spent a week in Siem Reap (Cambodia) and this gave me a chance to revisit some of the sites that are part of the vast Angkor Wat temple complex just outside of the city. Angkor is a truly magical, awe-inspiring place. I was with my brother visiting from the US on my first trip in 2018 – we hired a licensed guide and heard a great deal about the temples we visited. How much of this was part of the historical record and how much was fanciful is for someone other than me to know. In any case for this visit, I teamed up with my friend Ansel living in Siem Reap these days. We dispensed with a guide in favor of our cameras. We walked and climbed around several temples and shot a lot of photos, only a few of which, in my case, will see the light of day.
On our first day out, we headed for the main Angkor Wat temple, arriving before six in the morning, hoping to get one of those iconic images of the sun rising behind the famous domes of the main temple. Instead, we got a mostly cloudy sky with a bit of patchy sunshine. The light was actually lovely, but there were no sunrise shots, much less spectacular ones.
The image here spent a good deal of time in the digital darkroom. The sun was behind and to the right of the entrance way to the temple. The original raw file showed the foreground temple building in deep, almost black, shadow against a washed out, almost white, sky in the background. Fortunately raw files allow significant adjustments of shadow and highlight areas without compromising image quality beyond repair – I shoot all raw for this reason. There are, however, limits to what even a raw file can take, and this image is at the borderline. The front of the temple has a lot of digital noise to the detriment of clear, sharp details. But for a small, compressed jpeg image, quality is still acceptable.
Ban Gioc Waterfall – actually several falls – is a popular tourist attraction on the Quay Son River in the far north of Vietnam, along the country’s border with China. The falls are nestled in the rugged, lush mountain terrain of northern Vietnam. In fact, the border between Vietnam and China runs down the middle of Quay Son River. There are tourist centers on both sides of the river. Apparently, Vietnam and China had to negotiate a deal that allowed sightseeing boats to traverse the river border while they brought groups of Chinese and Vietnamese tourists to see the falls up close. Unfortunately, trails on the Vietnamese side that led to overviews of the falls were closed off and guarded by a couple of surly guys who snarled if anyone came to near.
A trickle of domestic tourists have begun visiting Hoi An in the last couple of weeks. This is the first signs of life for tourism in this area since the covid-19 spike in August.