There’s nothing like a good early morning hike up a mountain in heavy humidity early to get your blood pumping and rid you of toxins from weeks of mojitos and other unknown cocktails. We rose early to take the guided hike through the jungle up to Teuk Chhou Pagoda. Not knowing what to expect, my mind was blown by its eerie, abandoned and desolate qualities. A forgotten part of the world, tucked up high in the mountains of Kampot with views into Vietnam.
Guarding Teuk Chhou Pagoda, I felt as if I was Indiana Jones entering the temple of doom at my own peril. This eerie lone statue rose high into the sky and felt desolate like the rest of the mountaintop pagoda.
Objects have been at rest for what appears to be decades, as if everyone left in a hurry and never returned. The simple beauty of the objects and the way they were arranged allured me to explore more. Each artfully arranged piece is how I stumbled across them, none were staged for these photographs.
The many faces of Buddha, all aligned and symetrical. I felt a strange uneasiness as I witnessed them alone in an empty building. This building like others felt as if it were abandoned a long time ago, with layers of dust lining the floor and with only the gold giving a glimmer of life.
There was life here. Although some flowers were beginning to wilt, you could catch glimpses of child monks in the distance, standing motionless with their backs turned to us. It was strange to visit a pagoda so empty when elsewhere throughout SE Asia they have been a hive of activity and a central gathering place, surrounded by markets, hustlers and worshippers. These flowers were the only evidence of people practising their faith and leaving offerings to Buddha in this pagoda.