Best of the countdown

101 numbers equals 101 people/groups of people – all locals from Cambodia. Some understood English, some didn’t. Some asked somebody for translation. Or I used gestures to explain: International language. You need no vocabulary, only a bit of training. Everybody will try to understand you. It’s fun, guaranteed. Some refused to take part. But those who accepted the challenge gave their best, smiled, posed, sang, jumped, stood still, moved, talked, cooked, played, … These are some stories.


DSCN0097# 6 Apart from the number this photo isn’t fake at all. They were actually standing there like this, reading the newspaper.


DSCN0101# 8 In a park I saw a group standing around the couple and their photographer. I thought it was worth a try and asked if somebody spoke English. The groom did. Without any hesitation he allowed me to include them in my project. Since the photographer firstly wanted to take some pictures of his wife alone, we had to wait for a bit. He told me that they only had come to Siem Reap for photos; they were living in Phnom Penh (the capital) and had married in Battambang. They had several dresses and loads of make-up. All in all, for me it looked a bit kitschy, however, it might be normal for Asia?! Later, it was a great reference for people who wanted to see an example. They’d always love it.


DSCN0124# 15 Firstly, I wanted to wake up his neighbour who was sleeping like this in another Tuk Tuk (“taxi”). It sure wouldn’t have been very nice since I didn’t intend to ride somewhere. Thus I asked this guy to do the same in his Tuk Tuk.


DSCN0153# 25 She’s one of the cutest girls in Cambodia – for sure! Every morning, I used to go there for breakfast and she was always smiling. She can’t speak English, so she called for somebody for translation. On a whim, her father appeared and asked many questions. He seemed to be suspicious and I already thought, I won’t get a photo. However, a bit later I realised that he translated everything. After I had taken it, he told me that he used to work as a camera assistant and just wanted to make sure that the recording was perfect. Lovely!


DSCN0159# 27 As I heard her singing I followed her and told her how brilliant it would be if she sang for me. She was like: Really, you want me in a film?! Proudly, she started singing the song again. Maybe it wasn’t correct, but honestly, how many of us would sing in front of a camera of a foreigner in the middle of a lively street?


DSCN7474# 36 A “room” right next to the street, a chair, a huge mirror and two women. One was washing the hair of the other one. This scene had to get included! Life can be so simple.


DSCN7495# 40 There were about 15 boys standing next to me but only one was brave enough to go in front of my camera. With gestures I tried to make them understand that I wanted more boys in the photo. Well, it wasn’t that easy. Maybe they were just too shy? Anyway, they tried to force each other to stand next to the other guy. Hilarious!


DSCN7536# 48 A big crowd of young men were standing close to that wheel. Hoping to find somebody speaking English, I asked them if I could take a photo. But they just laughed at – or with? – me and didn’t move at all. I knew I want – and would get – that picture whatever it would cost. Thus I kept waiting, talking to them, trying to make them move towards the wheel. Out of the blue, a guy appeared and asked me what I wanted. He translated for me and I finally got my picture.


DSCN7548# 53 From lady # 52 I had bought some bananas which I was eating as I walked through the market. I was keen on a little pause but suddenly a woman from a stall started talking to me and we had quite a long conversation. Surprisingly, she knew a lot about Europe, knew neighbour countries from Switzerland and that we have different national languages. Amazed by her knowledge, I asked her why she knew that stuff. She answered that she would read a lot especially about other countries. That was like travelling for her. She admitted she would never be able to afford it. I loved her attitude. She didn’t want what she knew was quite impossible to get. She was happy with what she had and made the best of it. After a while, I asked her for a photo and she was so happy that she put on a crazy, colourful dress from her stall. She smiled as if it was her birthday, Christmas and New Year at the same time!


DSCN7608# 70 I’ve always wanted to take a photo of someone sitting on a toilet! Here it is. They didn’t understand much but still did what I asked them for. By now, they must think that white people have a screw loose. Might be true in my case. The phone from one girl rang right in that moment, she answered it and firstly couldn’t speak because she was laughing so much.


DSCN7616# 73 Several times, I tried to get into a university which wasn’t easy at all. Some were closed due to semester break, some didn’t have school due to other reasons, … Once I ended up in an office of a school and because they were in a semester break I asked the guys working there if I could take a photo of them. They didn’t mind. So I started while the boss still gave orders to tidy up their workplace. He probably wanted to look organisated or so – I found that quite funny since in Switzerland that would mean you have too less to do.


DSCN7718# 100 For the first number in the countdown I wanted something special. I saw these young people working in sort of a shopping mall and asked them for a favor: all together should jump. That was one of the funniest groups – they enjoyed this break so much! These young group was exactly what I was looking for: young, crazy, lively!


DSCN7720# 0 I had been carrying the idea for the last one for quite a while but never had the feeling that I found the right person for it – until I met this guy. He kind of reminded me of a bubbling freshwater spring: full of the joys of life. I explained my plan to him: hold the paper, crumple it up and throw the “ball” towards the camera. I reckon, nobody could have done a better job! His serious expression on his face is already funny again. As a matter of fact, he threw the paper at my nose – 100 points for him! We nearly split our sides with laughing. It was the last recording – what a great end!


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