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Over the past two years, 25-year-old Meng Kimlong has made his name as one of the most talented drone operators in the Kingdom,
Over the past two years, 25-year-old Meng Kimlong has made his name as one of the most talented drone operators in the Kingdom,

MY PHNOM PENH: Meng Kimlong: Photographer and drone expert

Over the past two years, 25-year-old Meng Kimlong has made his name as one of the most talented drone operators in the Kingdom, using his skills to capture both still images and video from around the country for a multitude of clients. This week, he sat down with Vandy Muong to talk about his favourite places in Phnom Penh.

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium

Drones can tell a story from a perspective that a fixed camera cannot. A drone is fast to set up, and you can easily take images from 500 metres up, depending on the model. Of course, there are risks, especially if you don’t do your research, because otherwise it could collide with overhead wires, signal towers, buildings or even people. I use different drones depending on whether I am working in Phnom Penh or the provinces. For example, at the Olympic Stadium I’ve used a drone to film the crowd for a live football match for Bayon TV. It was a great experience. Working live to TV is a real challenge, though, because you have to liaise with the broadcast controller, and also the light changes when you move directions. It was a fantastic experience flying the drone at the stadium; it worked out well.

Koh Dach and Koh Arey Ksat

Koh Dach and Koh Arey Ksat

There’s only one way to reach Koh Dach and Koh Arey Ksat: you have to take the ferry across the river. These islands have plenty of natural beauty as well as farms with various crops such as sugar cane, corn, rice and vegetables. People sometimes transport their produce on the ferry to the markets in Phnom Penh nearby. I love the simplicity of life there, and when I visit, it’s hard not to come back with amazing photographs and stories of daily life. In the evening, the men and boys bring their cattle to the river to wash them.

Street 371

Street 371

Photography is my passion, and Street 371 is a place where photographers can bring out their best. There’s such a rich diversity of stories on this street because it has a mix of poor, middle-class and wealthy, and their daily lives show a different perspective on life in Phnom Penh. When I was working at The Phnom Penh Post, I took a lot of photographs of demonstrations or just images for use on their own, and as a result, this street has many memories for me. Some of the photographs I took in 2014 still touch my heart – they show not just the development but the lives of many people, even the beggars who walk the area. It’s a place with many subjects who have interesting stories.

Aeon Mall

AEON mall

Aeon Mall is very well known – a shopping centre where you can find everything under one roof: electronics shops, clothing stores, coffee shops, supermarkets, cinemas. If I go to Aeon I spend most of a day there because it’s a pleasant environment, clean and cool. I used to go there mainly for bowling, but these days my wife and I go, sometimes with friends, to do window-shopping in the morning, then watching a movie or drinking coffee in the afternoon and dinner later. Also we buy food at the supermarket there – particularly cat food – because it’s good quality and a good price.

Khmer noodle restaurants

Khmer noodle restaurants

I love curried noodles because that dish contains meat, but sometimes I’ll order Khmer noodles with green soup. I’ll eat noodles in the evening on weekends with my wife or with friends. When I was a child, I ate noodles a lot, and I still love the taste – it’s so good. I’ve a couple of places I go – one near Wat Botum and another in Tuol Kork. The one near Wat Botum can get pretty noisy, but it’s not expensive: between $1.50-$2.00 a plate.

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