Today’s travel post is a little different. It’s a travel through time; we are going back to 1931 to accompany a chap called Frederick Percival (known affectionately to all as FPM) on his trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
[First glimpse of Angkor Wat from Western Gateway]
FPM (1875-1944) was the ninth child of the rector of Filton in Bristol. He qualified as a doctor from Bristol University in 1897 and in 1902 won first place in the entrance exam for the Indian Medical Service. He worked in India for most of his career, but also had spells in Tibet, Uganda, Baghdad and Paris, with time spent serving in Baluchistan, Persia, Mesopotamia and France during the 1914-18 war. His primary areas of expertise were in tropical medicine, in particular plague and kala-azar, and was published numerous times in journals including the British Medical Journal and the New York Medical Journal. He held positions such as Representative of the Government of India at the League of Nations and honorary surgeon to HM King George V, and was awarded the OBE.
FPM led a varied and well-travelled career, and he made the most of his various positions abroad by travelling as extensively as possible, seeing as many sights as he could. One such trip (while he happened to be Officiating Director of the Pasteur Institute and Research Laboratory in Shillong, Assam) took him to Angkor Wat in 1931. He took quite a few photos with his trusty camera, as well as some glass slides using his Verascope. He stuck the prints into a photo album and annotated each, carefully.
[FPM’s travel albums]
FPM was my great-grandfather, and his travel albums now live in my parents house. I absolutely love looking through his old snaps, so I thought I’d share some of them with you here today, along with the captions he wrote beneath them. I haven’t edited any of them, and the photo corner ‘effects’ you see are the actual real photo corners that got scanned in along with the pictures. I hope you find them as interesting as I do.
[View of Angkor Wat from present Buddhist monastery]
[A porch of one of the temples of Angkor Wat]
[Another view of the same (human figures for comparison)]
[The Hindu temple – Angkor perched on an eminence]
[Corner of Angkor Wat from south aspect]
[View from top of Angkor Wat looking westward]
[Giants holding body of sacred snake (Nag)]
[Close up of avenue of giants]
[Shiva temple of Bayon]
[Shiva image on Bayon]
[Ruined temple and monastery of Ta Prohm]
[Temple of Ta Keo, Angkor]
[Temple and bathing ghat, Neak Pean]
[Eastern staircase to temple of Bakheng, Royal Palace]
I love that there’s basically nobody around in all of these pictures. It must have been an incredible experience.
I’m hoping to recreate some of these shots when I travel to Angkor Wat myself in just over a month. It’s also on my 30 before 30 list, so you’ll be hearing about it here when I do!
FPM had a few other exciting travels besides this, including Thailand, Hong Kong and China. I know other people’s family histories aren’t half as exciting as your own so let me know if I’ve gone totally out on a limb here, or if you’d like me to upload some of those, as well.
Update: if you’d like to see the before and after shots, see my post here.