Sala Bai Hotel & Restaurant School is a tuition-free hospitality training institution in Siem Reap. Cambodia. Aimed at helping Cambodia’s most disadvantaged youth, Sala Bai’s vocational training is the fastest and most efficient way of fighting poverty, human trafficking and teenage prostitution.
Inspired by the challenges overcome by the young students of Sala Bai, in April 2012 Sam McGoun decided to run, cycle and swim more than 670km across Cambodia to raise money to help the students of Sala Bai. As the documentary photography- and film-making team tasked with chronicling Sam’s odyssey, we did our best to keep pace with him as he traversed muddy lakes and rivers, ran through small villages and pedalled across the craggy countryside of rural Cambodia.
Sam’s route across Cambodia followed the metaphorical journey traveled by more than one thousand (and counting) Sala Bai students — from a small floating village in Mechrey on Tonlé Sap Lake, to Sala Bai where they study in Siem Reap, to a sandy beachfront overlooking the Gulf of Thailand in Sihanoukville, where the students’ graduation celebration is held annually.
Once again, for 10 days in November 2013, Sam and our small documentary team descended upon the Kingdom of Wonder for a second cross-Cambodia fund-raising adventure. This time Sam ran, cycled and swam more than 701km across the country. Once again, our team was tasked with following Sam up hills, into mud, across lakes, through rivers, onto floating villages and into pagodas to tell the story of his epic journey.
A few months before Sam’s second odyssey, I was speaking with my friends at SanDisk in California. They had seen the short behind-the-scenes video that Mike and I created following Sam’s first cross-Cambodia triathlon, and they asked us to make some similar photo and video content during Sam’s upcoming second adventure for the #SanDiskStories campaign.
The first video, ‘Extreme Cambodian Triathlon’, is a short film that introduces Sam to viewers as he explains his inspiration and personal challenge. It also takes people behind-the-scenes with me as I document Sam’s cross-Cambodia adventure.
The second film, ‘The Challenge’, is a short video about the personal challenge I gave myself during the documentation of Sam’s journey: to make 10 photographs in rapid succession, every hour on the hour, from sunrise until sunset, each day of the adventure. It includes me explaining the nature of my photographic experiment and shows viewers both the process and results of my creative challenge.
These films are complemented by a series of blog posts that the team created for the SanDisk Stories site.
See more of my work with the SanDisk Extreme Team.