My parents were visiting, which means you have to show people around – wow them with the cultural wonders of South East Asia. Thus, we decided to go on a three-day trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia to visit the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat. This was our third visit in six years. As a general observation, we have noticed in that short period, that the visitor numbers have increased drastically and that the ruins have fallen into much more serious states of disrepair. But we have also noticed, that the Cambodian government is putting a lot of effort into preserving the existing ruins. Unfortunately, we have also seen a lot of brainless tourists stomping all over the ruins without any regard, that their carelessness will accelerate the decay. This is a shame. It is even a bigger shame that usually, these same people are being careless because they are so occupied posing for narcissistic selfies – which I admit, I have zero understanding for. If I were in charge, I’d slap a “selfie-stick fee” on for each visitor, of $500/per day. But this is not a ranting entry, but one that wants to share a few impressions of Angkor.
Ta Phrom, one of the most stunning temples, due to the mighty tree-overgrowth. From this point, we turn 180 degrees and we see one of the main buildings under renovation.
Ta Phrom also has a few other highlights. The entire structure is heavily overgrown by trees and roots. The structures deteriorate, because of the unforeseen loads exerted by the trees’ varying weight (dry day vs rainy day) and the wind loads also introduced by the trees.
Then there are the little quiet moments, when as an observant visitor you have a moment of solitude.
Some of the sites have a few permanent residents.
Other sites are less frequented and invite for a short nap.But of course, Angkor is very popular and usually tourists roam everywhere. So it takes some effort to create the illusion of being all alone among the ruins – to create an illusion of serentity. Seen here are some impressions of the Bayon – a temple built to glorify himself built by King Jayavarman VII. When you’re the King, you’re the king.
The interaction between ancient man-made structures and nature is pretty awe-inspiring, sort of put a man in his place. We may rule temporarily, but nature has so much more stamina and will outlast and reclaim any buildings made by man.
Moving on. When you visit Angkor and its temples, you will likely be pushed to get up early one day – really early….earlier, to witness the sunrise. And you should, it is absolutely worth it. I took my dad to the main building the Angkor Wat. We walked down the long pathway for a little while and then just sat down to photograph.
And then eventually, it happened. The sun rose behind the Wat…..only to look like a rising full moon.
About thirty minutes later, I shot this image of the entire Angkor Wat structure and then went off to visit other sites.
Overall, I am very happy that we took the trip, that we were able to share this with my parents and show them these beautiful places. But, I worry about the future of this world heritage site.
But for now, just for now, I am happy and I will not dwell on what might happen to Angkor and its buildings, but will enjoy the fact that I have seen Angkor again.
Cheers, stay sharp and try to find joy in this very moment you are in right now.
Yours Markus \m/