“A camera teaches you how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lange
Some of you might know that, when we travel, we generally have our cameras at the ready. One reason we love photography is because it forces us to slow down and ‘see’ the places we are, rather than just ‘looking’ at them. It changes our perspective. And, of course, that’s one of the reasons we love travelling – because it shifts our perspective on who we are and how we live. Cambodia is one place we went last year which did just that.
Although Cambodia might not sound as exciting as some other trips we’ve done, nonetheless, it is up there as one of our top five ‘must visit’ destinations. And it isn’t because of the temples and ancient history (spectacular though those are). Rather, it’s because Cambodia is a place where the recent past exists uneasily alongside the present and where, if you make the effort, you can step off the tourist path and begin to see a different reality. While you are confronted with poverty and hardship, the results of war and genocide, you also experience the generosity, dignity and strength of a people who are keen to see their country prosper.
This isn’t always a comfortable experience - the gap between our wealth, opportunities and lives, is too glaring to allow that. But you cannot walk away unchanged. Being outside your comfort zone, emotionally and physically, and allowing yourself to connect with the people in the places you visit, allows you to grow yourself. We can see our common humanity, which allows us all to strive to emulate the good we see in others, and to shift our perspective on what we see.
So, next time we go to Cambodia, we’ll be taking our camera, and remembering to frame our experiences and views through a slightly different lens.