I know you’re probably hoping for a picture of some beach time, thai massage or interesting temples at this point, but you’re going to have to wait on those. I’ve been delighting in Art Deco. What a peculiar thing to find in Southeast Asia, you might say. Well, I thought the same until I decided to look up what the heck Art Deco is all about. Then it made perfect sense, at least for Cambodia. The French colonized Cambodia around 1864. In the 1953 Cambodia gained its independence. The expansive and breathtaking Angkor Wat was tackled in the 9th to 13th centuries; It was time for Khmer Architecture to make another statement. Between the 1950’s and 1970’s Cambodia sought new ways to express itself as a modern, progressive nation. A distinct ‘movement’ developed, now referred to by some as ‘New Khmer’ Architecture. It was innovative in that it combined old styles of French Colonial and Chinese architecture with new international trends such as Art Deco. The result is a beautiful mishmash of bold and refined, sharp and romantic. I’ve been musing over it for weeks.
Khmer Architecture Tours is a firm based out of Phnom Penh offers a free map of a walking tour which showcases the best examples of the mixture of French Colonial and Art Deco buildings in both Phnom Penh and Battambang. Since free and walking are two things Justine and I both love, we were hot on these trails. I’ve never had such a strong reaction to architecture as I have walking around Cambodia. The way buildings have been cut up, cut out, reshaped, or replaced can ultimately tell a great story about a city’s history, including who was there and what they liked.
I found myself really drawn to the geometric shapes and bright colors that make up walls and doors all around Cambodia and Thailand. They are everywhere! Photographing them has become a secret side obsession. Now I’ll let you in on it.
In these pictures you will see glimpses of French style balconies and Art Deco delights like geometric shapes and bright colors, some windows and doors, some fruit, and people. These are mostly from walks in Phnom Penh and Battambang, but the search for geometric shapes continued in Chiang Mai, Mae Sariang and Bangkok. Try to pick out my one shot of Bangkok!
Click here for my Walking Tours Photo Album