Quirky but charming book on Angkor now on sale

Sophie Lizeray’s rendition of a lotus pond, of which she writes in the book: “This is the place to be for insects and aquatic animals. The pond provides them with shelter, food and perhaps some mating action.”
Sophie Lizeray’s rendition of a lotus pond, of which she writes in the book: “This is the place to be for insects and aquatic animals. The pond provides them with shelter, food and perhaps some mating action.”

Quirky but charming book on Angkor now on sale

Numerous weighty tomes have been published on Angkor Wat, but a new book, Wandering Angkor, takes the reader on a tour of the temples in an informative yet engaging fashion, complete with lighthearted asides and quirky cartoon style illustrations by author Sophie Lizeray.

Combining facts and humour, with a chatty accessible tone, Lizeray’s debut publication invites readers to hop on a little purple moto and join her, the guide, to “cruise through the bustling town of Siem Reap,” “bump through the forest” and “be awed by the majestic Bayon and Angkor Wat.”

French-Malaysian Lizeray, a Siem Reap-resident landscape architect and keen artist who has been visiting Cambodia since 1999, decided to produce the book after working on temple conservation at Angkor.

“I’m a landscape architect by training and I was working here a few years ago, so I had lots of opportunities to go visit the temples and draw them,” she says. “And when I left Cambodia I thought, why not use all the material that I have? I enjoy drawing, I enjoy writing, so I thought I’d compile it. It’s like a road trip to Angkor and you follow this little guide who’s fun and gives you some easy information on the temples.”

The slim book contains over 30 colourful illustrations, not only of the temples but the journey to reach them, from drawings of busy National Road 6 – complete with moto driver transporting two pigs on the back of his vehicle – to a close encounter with a buffalo, the guide skidding to a halt in front of it with the caption, “Buffalo crossing!” (Based on a real-life experience, Lizeray says).

The book is cartoon style says Lizeray, adding, “For this work I wanted to render it in very bold colours, so that’s why I chose a cartoon style, very freehand.

Wandering Angkor author and illustrator Sophie Lizeray.
Wandering Angkor author and illustrator Sophie Lizeray. Miranda Glasser

“It is really an invitation to travel through a couple of temples in Angkor and some interesting, easy-to-digest facts that come with it, without going into scholarly descriptions.

“It is as if the character’s talking to you, that type of language. The facts on the temples are definitely facts – my book was checked by an art historian because I wanted it to be accurate. I hope it is a fun, engaging read – that’s the intention.”

Some of the facts include tidbits like the information about laterite, a type of soil derived from weathered underlying rock, which forms not only many of Siem Reap’s unpaved roads but also some of the temples.

Lizeray writes, “But wait! Laterite is more than just dirt tracks. In ancient times, blocks of laterite were cut and sun dried for construction purposes. Such blocks, along with other materials such as bamboo, timber, bricks and sandstone, were used to build Angkor’s temples. Look out for their distinctive ochre colour during your visits… Makes you wonder… The temples of the gods are made from the same material as these dusty tracks!”

Lizeray, also a yoga teacher, is working on a quirky cartoon -style story of a yoga journey called, Oh My Yoga, that she publishes weekly on her website, http://fissosworld.com/.

Wandering Angkor is available on Amazon and at Monument Books in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

MOST VIEWED

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not