Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On second thoughts...

The pyramid temple of Prasat Thom as I encountered it on my arrival in Koh Ker in November 2001
Tonight I watched a television documentary on National Geographic that I should've made. What am I talking about? Back in 2001 I was contacted by Live Art Entertainment in Singapore, who were considering making a documentary in Cambodia. They'd read my website and were keen for me to take a small camera crew into the Cambodian jungle to search for ancient temples. I kid you not. However, not having the face and voice for television, and having a full-time job in the banking industry in England, I turned down their offer. Instead I suggested they consider the double-edged angle of lost temples and landmines at Koh Ker, buried in the forests northeast of Angkor and gave them as much information as I could muster. Then I forgot about it. In fact it was in November of that same year that I made my first visit to Koh Ker - a real tough trip that only the foolhardy would've ever considered at that time. Landmines were a real threat outside of a few temples that had been cleared but I knew there were many more in the forest waiting to be discovered - both temples and landmines. So imagine my surprise when I saw a documentary under the National Geographic banner at the beginning of 2003, following Professor Charles Higham, a noted SEA archaeological scholar, into the recently-discovered temples of Koh Ker in a film called Guardians of Angkor. The guardians turned out to be landmines and it was exactly the angle of temples and landmines that I'd suggested over a year before. In fact the show's producer, director and writer, Dean Love, netted a couple of television awards for his programme. That's what happens when you turn down offers that come out of the blue. So when Kim Fay asked me to edit the book To Cambodia With Love a few years ago, I bit her arm off. I got a message today to say that a package was awaiting collection at the post office, so fingers crossed, my copies of TCWL have finally arrived. Whilst watching the programme I spotted a young girl trying to sell Professor Higham a krama at Angkor Wat and recognized her as Piya, one of the temple sellers I've known for many years now. She made it onto the tv, I didn't.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did National Geographic give you the full credits you deserved? - Best wishes, Lena

November 25, 2010 at 5:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Andy
On planning a trip to Koh Ker, do you have any updating on the state of the site, as I understand from past postings in your blog Prasat Thom was undergoing extensive restoration? Do the minefields pose a real threat for visitors? - Thank you, very much, for any tips.
Gerald and Cynthia McDowell, from Chau Doc

November 25, 2010 at 5:54 AM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Hi Lena,
It doesn't work like that, the 'ideas' people are just that, its the writers and directors who get the kudos. But the moral of the story is, take the chance when it presents itself or you may end up kicking yourself about it in the future! My circumstances were very different then to what they are now, and if they asked me today, you can bet I'd take it on :-)

November 25, 2010 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Hi Gerald & Cynthia,
The Koh Ker complex is so different now to back then. So many more temples have been revealed and the whole area around the temples that you can visit have been de-mined. Its actually a great site for visiting different styled temples which is still pretty low on visitor numbers, even though the road from Siem Reap is better than ever before. The minefields present no problems for tourists, only stupid adventurous people like me who always get off the beaten track! The last I heard is that access to the top of Prasat Thom is still not allowed as they are concerned about visitor safety. I remember still having 'jelly legs' the 1st time I climbed it in 2001.

November 25, 2010 at 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,
Let me kindly disagree with you. I think they have stolen your idea, to put it plainly, without even acknowledging you.
I have just ordered TCWL from Amazon.
All the best, Lena

November 25, 2010 at 8:42 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Hi Lena, thanks for your support in both matters. Let me know what you think of TCWL. Send me a picture of you and the book and I'll post it on facebook, if you like.

November 25, 2010 at 9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Andy - I kind of lost my face forever for Facebook. I'm image-shy. But surely I will drop one day by your office in PP, for you to dedicate it to me also with love. - Lena

November 26, 2010 at 10:59 AM  

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