Take Apsara Photos in Phnom Penh, Cambodia


Breakfast was served on the 5th floor of Star Royal Hotel in an open area. Eggs, Chinese food and some of the hottest coffee we’ve ever had eaten overlooking the Tonle Sap River. There were all kinds of boats docked this morning. They go on short river cruises ranging from 1-1/2 hours on up. One main tourist cruise runs along the riverfront area, across the Tonle Sap and up the Mekong River to visit floating fishing villages.

I had torn out an article from one of my travel magazines about Photo Op extreme makeovers in Phnom Penh. According to this article, you can visit a photo studio on almost any major street. They transform you into an Apsara (or a Cambodian Princess) with their own make up artists, costumes and backdrops. This sounded like fun and we set off on a pilgrimage to find such a studio.

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rooftop view from the Star Royal Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Down Street 178 (streets are numbered instead of named), past art shops, workshops making Buddhas and other statues, a man selling chunks of ice, street barber shops, printers sitting in little stalls, people selling different colored fish and guinea pigs for pets.

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rickshaws along the streets in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
 

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selling Lotus seeds in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

You cannot visit any photo studio on almost any major street. It took quite a while before we found a photo shop that does the whole Megillah, near Charles de Gaulle Avenue. …View image… Upstairs, a make-up artist did my make-up with false eyelashes, falls and other pieces of hair. (I was in a “back to the future” 1960 time warp.)

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time for make-up in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In the ’60′s, I wore false eyelashes and a fall all the time. Didn’t everyone? Then they dressed me in two different outfits, loaded fake gold jewelry, bracelets, ankle bracelets, arm pieces and a heavy headdress on, walked me up one more flight of stairs to where the photographer was waiting. There were two men. One to pose me and one to take the photographs.

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Sheila is looking better by the minute in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Photos taken, back downstairs to remove the clothes and make-up. Be forewarned. There is no such thing as “sanitary” (as we know it) involved in the process so if you are squeamish, don’t do it. The same puffs, eye shadow, brushes, etc., are used on everyone. However, I never broke out or developed any diseases. The entire process took about one hour. Three 5 x 7 poses in one outfit plus an additional outfit cost $18.00. Such a deal.


I would not want to be a model. The lights are hot. I couldn’t breathe in the outfits tightly pinned on me and the headdress was very heavy. We’d pick the finished photos up on our return, but you can see them now.

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trying to keep the headdress from falling off in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The scenic riverfront where the Mekong, Tonle Bassac and Tonle Sap Rivers meet is bustling. Shops and restaurants. Sisowath Quay is the riverside’s main promenade and the Russian Market is supposed to be the best place to shop for souvenirs.

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two monks, hunkered down in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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