As punishment for disobeying the gods, the Titan Atlas, according to Greek mythology, was forced to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders for all eternity.
If only he had a moto.
The ubiquitous four-stroke workhorse of Cambodian transportation could easily shuttle the Titan and his stone to the heavens and back with room to spare. Probably for a buck or two.
The moto’s humble hauling power is featured in a new photography book by Conor Wall and Hans Kemp. Titled “Carrying Cambodia,” the book documents all the incredulous ways that underpowered Cambodia tackles its outsized transportation needs.
Like the transit system itself, the book reaches far beyond motorcycles. It include vehicles of every kind: bicycles, cars, trucks and the uniquely Cambodian moto-pulled trailer, or remorque, and more.
In a photo exhibit of the same name, Wall and Kemp will show highlights from the book at The FCC Phnom Penh throughout March.
“The photos were selected to give a taste of the variety inside the book,” Wall explains. “There are examples of all the different modes of transportation. The selection mixes inanimate loads and human loads, as well as shots from the front, side and back of loads being carried.”
The exhibit serves as an opening to the book, and many of the photographer’s favorite images have been withheld.
“We didn’t want to show all the best shots. So we purposely left some beauties out of the exhibition.”
Born and raised in Cork, Ireland, Wall first arrived in Cambodia in 2005 while traveling around the world.
“I instantly loved the place,” he says. “I stayed an extra two months.”
After a year in Australia, Wall was on his way back to a promising engineering career in Ireland when he was beckoned by memories of Cambodia.
“I decided to stop off in Cambodia for one month, one last visit before I went back home.”
Or so he thought.
“Even though my flight tickets were paid all the way to Ireland, I never left! I began to teach English in Phnom Penh and took my sexy 100cc motorbike all over the country as my interest in photography grew.”
The long office hours and rainy Irish days would have to wait.
“I learned Khmer pretty fast and I used to drive all around the country meeting people, taking photos and having adventures.”
Five years on, Wall now works full-time as a photographer. In addition to the commercial jobs, he still wanders the countryside.
“I love the Khmer people and their laid back lifestyle,” he says. “I always loved it here.”
The “Carrying Cambodia” book launch party begins at 6 p.m. Sunday March 7. The photographers will be on hand, and copies of the book will be on sale for $22.