Room 12.

Kampong Phluk, Tonlé Sap, Cambodia | 1965

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Upon the flood plain of Cambodia’s Tonlé Sap Lake (Khmer; great lake) is Kampong Phluk (Khmer; harbour of the tusks), a floating village with rustic and colourful double-storied houses on stilts. Home to nearly 500 families, Kampong Phluk’s homes rise to nearly six meters above the ground. Hewed from special wood, the colorfully painted hamlet, decorated with kitschy fake flowers sits in sharp contrast with the mud- coloured, silt-heavy water flowing by. On the outskirts of the village, the House of the Spirits sits in an ancient Mreah Prew Phnom tree.

Traditionally, spirit houses are shrines to the animist spirits. These structures, which can be found primarily in the Southeast Asian cultures of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, are usually placed in an auspicious corner of the town or property, determined by a Brahmin priest. Votive offerings are left at the house to propitiate the spirits. More elaborate installations include an altar for this purpose.

This particular spirit house is no longer used to store the village’s household gods, as a larger temple has now been built off the flood plain. Now this chamber is a treetop extra room for travellers seeking lodging in the area.

© Photography: GilesG Photography/Gavin Conlan   

Great Dunmow, Essex, England

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