Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more
Last year, inspired by countless photos of beautiful sunrises at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Happy Gwailo and I decided to spend our year end break in Cambodia, with Angkor Wat – the highlight of our trip – saved for last.
We kicked off our tour of the temples with sunrise at Angkor Wat. We knew – of course we did – that Angkor Wat would be very touristy and that December/January is high season. But even so, the hordes of tourists (and of course we were part of the problem) at Angkor Wat for the sunrise was shocking.
The picture in my head was of a serene sunrise with the ruined temples in the background. It would be silent, meditative almost – a spiritual start to the day.
Instead, what we got were hundreds, if not thousands, of people gathered by the pool fronting Angkor Wat. It was noisy, with the air filled with the chatter of hundreds of people; it was definitely not serene and peaceful to say the least.
To give the government its’ due, there are many restrictions in place to protect their national treasure such as prohibitions on touching the friezes. The tourists here are also decent enough human beings that there isn’t litter everywhere. Even so, I can’t help but wonder how the thousands of people that come through here every day will impact the ancient temples.
A beautiful destination, combined with Instagram, the internet, and modern day travel, is both a treasure and a curse. It’s such a recognised phenomenon that this Business Insider article lists seven places that have been ruined by too many tourists, including one sad story about how some tourists killed seven of the famous swimming pigs at Pig Beach in the Bahamas because they fed them food and alcohol.
Yes, there are many beautiful places in the world, and yes, I want to see them too. But the next time I’m planning a trip, I’ll be thinking about how I can travel responsibly and do my part to protect, not destroy the place I’m visiting.
This post was inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Silence.
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