Treasure trove

Treasure trove

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Blogger Chea Phal has been uncovering the capital’s hidden gems for years. A visit to his website, www.cheaphal.com, provides photos of architectural delights, allowing residents to map out cycling tours through the city’s past, present and future.

Chea Phal is passionate photographer infatuated with Phnom Penh’s architecture, especially buildings that have fallen into disrepair.

He is self-taught; Chea started learning how to take pictures online and with books four years ago. He had been interested in photography long before that, but quality camera equipment was prohibitively expensive.

He works full time with an NGO and spends his spare time exploring the streets of the capital city, capturing the beauty of its buildings old and new, famed and forgotten.

Born and raised in Phnom Penh, Chea feels that it’s particularly important to document some of the antique and abandoned buildings that are threatened with demolition in the face of development.

He deeply regrets the destruction of Phnom Penh’s unique architecture, believing that it could provide a real draw for foreign visitors.

His favourite discovery was the Carmalite Chapel located across the Japanese Bridge. He had heard of its existence, but it took six months of hunting to track it down.

“I was on cloud nine when I found it,” he says. “Eventually I spotted its spire as I was driving across Japanese bridge on my moto.”

Start your tour at www.cheaphal.com, where descriptions and the locations of the photos collected here, as well as the one one the cover, can be found.

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