I couldn’t believe I was standing in Angkor Wat after 2 short years. How did I get to be this lucky? On second thought, I wouldn’t call it luck, maybe hard work and a knack for saving really well?
You can never look at the same place twice with the same thoughts on it. This time was no different, I noticed more and wasn’t completely blindsided by the beauty in front of me, and to be perfectly honest; I preferred my first time. That’s definitely not something you hear every day!
I couldn’t believe the changes. My first thought was, is Cambodia the new Thailand? Please don’t think I’m not aware of the morning crowds at Angkor Wat and the bustle of this ‘zen’ site, it’s just gotten to another level. When did the tour buses start arriving?
I’ve decided to do several BEFORE and NOW situations:
Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Before: Absolute silence and respect. It was in October of 2013 and there was a soft hum among the tourists and the photographers were on their haunches completely focused with their fingers poised over the trigger.
Now: “What are we fucking waiting for, hey?” I shit you not. Blunt, obnoxious tourist. Rude people standing in the front blocking everyone’s view and pushing others out the way. Photographers trying to get the shot, they will literally shove you out the way. I actually got so annoyed I ended up in the temple before the sun had properly risen.
Angkor Thom at 7:30am
Before: A few excited tourists whispering excitedly snapping pictures and posing with the many faces of Angkor. A few gasps of wonder were the only things to be heard.
Now: “Oh my God, is there a party going on or a heated argument?” was the first thing I said when walking into the temple. There were about 100 tourists on the 1st floor and they were shouting and screeching. I couldn’t believe it. My favourite temple. I was getting pushed out of the way so the tourist group could take 40 pictures of themselves in front of one of the many amazing faces.
Ta Prohm before 10am
Before: Slightly busier than the other temples, but still the same as Angkor Thom; excited giggles and camera clicks.
Now: I could not get a single photo of myself in front of the ruins. The tour group literally took over the entire temple and turned it into an absolute circus. The local guides were no help and actually encouraged them to pose for photos for an entire hour whilst other tourists (also paying visitors) had to stand around waiting in the sweltering heat.
Is it still worth the visit? Yes. Is it going to irritate you into quitting before midday? Possibly. I personally don’t think large tourist groups should be allowed, Angkor is such a sacred place and it deserves a higher level of respect. I also saw more rough graffiti this time around and fewer guards patrolling the grounds. Hopefully, I went on a really bad day and things are not always this way.
You have to understand that this site was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life and it held a very special place in my heart.
Did anyone else have an experience like this? Please let me know in the comments below.
Cambodia, I still absolutely adore you!