Exploring the abandoned former French colonial era church on Bokor Mountain in Cambodia recently. In 1978 the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia, toppling the murderous Khmer Rouge in a matter of weeks. There was however a stalemate for a time on Bokor (and other locations) as the Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge battled it out- fighting between the church and nearby casino. In recent years the church has had occasional use- it’s first in nearly four decades. “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…”
Not your usual urbex video, but exploring ruins nonetheless. This is the strange fusion temple complex of Banteay Prey Nokor in Cambodia that we visited late last year. Situated in countryside near the town of Kompong Cham, the original 11th century Mahayana Buddhist shrine has been added onto over the centuries and incorporated into a bewildering and sprawling complex of wat’s and stupa’s. Apart from a security guard and a couple of monks we had the place to ourselves. More to come from Cambodia soon…
Shot and edited in 4K ultra high definition by Gunner.
We’ve been interested to communicate with former students at this church school who have corrected some of our assumptions, and shared their memories inspired by our images. We don’t make any claim to be historians ourselves, and so, rather than add to an editorialisation, here are some of their responses:
” . . . it’s incredible seeing the ‘wardrobe’ and dressing rooms when we used to put on huge shows that toured around the country . . . When I was a student there . . . there were exactly 31 pianos on campus, and one concert grand piano, a weights room . . . and the dormitories were fully air-conditioned, and heated. The cafeteria was pretty awesome too, and so totally was the in-door heated olympic sized swimming pool. We knew we were lucky to go there.”
“Whilst attending there, I was told on several occasions that Three Nephites watched over the place and protected it from harm and danger. It seems that they too have abandoned it. Perhaps they also ran out of money?”
“I haven’t been back to my Alma Mater since it closed. These pics are eerily beautiful and sad at the same time. So many memories that stir so many emotions. When it opened in 1958 it had the best facilities in the country and remained like that until recently when other schools started to follow suit. Loved my time there. Shame my kids will never know what I felt. This was so much more than a school,it was an experience!”
“State of the art it was. Home away from home. Still miss the toast, sausages and tomatoes for breakfast, and the raspberry cream buns at the canteen. And what about the Friday night basketball matches.”
One’s ability to walk freely into this ossuary is somewhat unsettling and confronting in relation to patterns and codes of behaviour around human remains that exist elsewhere. However, the artful calligraphy on the skulls, and our desire and that of others before – and presumably after – us to leave them undisturbed affords some welcome sanctity. Memento mori: we remember death both as a concept, and the personalisation of it, in these individuals who have passed away. Shot and edited in 4K ultra high definition by Gunner.
Images of the exterior of Christchurch Cathedral from a couple of months ago. The Cathedral was badly damaged in the February 22nd 2011 earthquake (and other aftershocks) that devastated New Zealand’s third largest city. It’s a surreal experience, the centre around Cathedral Square is mostly unrecognizable, apart from the iconic Christchurch Cathedral.
The Anglican Cathedral was built between 1864 and 1904 in the centre of the city, surrounded by Cathedral Square. It became the cathedral seat of the Bishop of Christchurch in the New Zealand tikanga of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
Repeated earthquakes have damaged the building (mostly the spire) in the course of its history: in 1881, 1888, 1901, 1922, and September 2010. The February 2011 Christchurch earthquake destroyed the spire and part of the tower, and severely damaged the structure of the remaining building. The remainder of the tower was demolished in March 2012. The west wall suffered collapses in the June 2011 earthquake and the December 2011 quake due to a steel structure – intended to stabilize the rose window – pushing it in.
The Anglican Church has decided to demolish the building and replace it with a new structure – a decision which has become controversial in post-quake Christchurch. Various groups have opposed the Church’s intentions, with actions including taking a case to court. As of January 2015 the judgements have mostly been in favour of the Church, with one more judgement pending. No demolition has occurred since the removal of the tower in early 2012.
There has been opposition to demolition, with heritage groups including the UNESCO World Heritage Centre opposing the action. A local character, the Wizard of New Zealand, made protests calling for the cathedral to be saved. Kit Miyamoto, an American-based structural engineer and expert in earthquake rebuilding, inspected the cathedral after the September 2010 quake. He cited his experience in stating that restoring and strengthening of the building was both “feasible and affordable”.
In April 2012, a group of engineers from the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering launched a petition seeking support of 100 colleagues to stop the demolition. They claimed that legal action was also a possibility. In the same month the Restore Christchurch Cathedral Group was formed and sought signatures for a petition to save the cathedral.