Travel Photography at tourist Traps: Angkor Wat, Cambodia
I was fortunate (and yes, quite skilled) to capture a split second of a Cambodian Buddhist monk performing an ancient self cleansing ritual at the Bayon of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. It is not an accident why I choose the above photo to be the first of this post.
Discarding all unnecessary from our lives will set us free, the less we own the more happiness we have; it is true wisdom and it is profound.
View my first photo, absorb its message, dig! Dig!! DIG!!! deeper within your soul and you will be on your way towards a better you! Congratulations! Your journey just began!
The path to achieve enlightenment has many ways and is not an easy feat; most will never experience even a second of it.
By learning from different cultures our eyes can open wide and we as humans can improve.
Visiting AngkorLand, I mean Disneyland, OK … I got it … Angkor Wat!!! and seeing the Seventh Wonder Of The World is a dream of any human and any photographer (although judging from my recent hate mail I feel I am not allowed to refer to myself as a photographer anymore).
Regardless, I am proud to have been there and without further delay I will now share my postcards from Angkor Wat. This is an accurate record of what I saw but it is only my truth, individual experiences may vary.
I admit I arrived at Angkor Wat at the most beautiful but worst time for crowds just before sunset (although the place is never a ghost town) and saw immediately it was impossible to take photos of the Seventh Wonder Of The World unless I spend hours erasing tourists in Photoshop during post production.
After 5 seconds of deep depression I came up with the answer: I will incorporate the tourist into my postcards of Angkor Wat!
I actually had fun taking these pictures and the job was easy because I was in the middle of tourist hell. Someone might say I am complaining but I feel I am only reporting.
Some might say I am a tourist too therefore just adding to the crowds, so why blame other tourists?
I must disagree and say I am not part of the problem at all.
The proof is: take away all tourists and leave only me there … problem solved!
Result: great photos! Now remove me (the supposed problem) the crowds are still there! Makes sense?
Tuk-tuk hell a.k.a. early morning rush hour at the gates of Angkor Wat.
The row of heads on the side of the road lead up the a beautiful gate; no I do not mean the row of heads of those Japanese tourist:
My first view of the stunning Bayon famous for its many stone carved faces … you can almost see them through the tourists’ straw hats:
This photo is about one of the most shameful and disturbing moments besides loud obnoxious tourist and visitors who were trying to sit on Buddha statues.
Monks visit Angkor Wat from all over Cambodia and the place holds special significance to them. Perhaps giving them respect and some breathing space would be appropriate.
Just before I took this photo one of these photographers positioned the monk touching him while turning the monk towards the light (not sure monks like to be touched) making him clearly uncomfortable:
These Cambodian girls smile and dance all day for tourist and take photos with them for a fee. I waited between dances when the smiles disappeared to capture a real moment:
The rows of stone columns in the windows would provide fantastic material for photography but without the row of Japanese tourists:
More tourists, occupying every corner of Angkor Wat:
I did not hide that I was photographing tourists, unless I was taking pictures of clouds I could only photograph tourists:
Look another group of Japanese tourists:
Being a tourist is tiring … hey, LOOK at me I am sitting on the Seventh Wonder Of The World:
This is what I overheard from the speech of that tour guide in the middle of this photo (yes, I am fluent in Japanese): “now everybody look to your left where you can see tourist from China; now listen closely because you cannot see yet but you can already hear the German group is approaching around the corner, they are always the loudest; right behind us is the French tour group, they will complain about something and keep bumping into you; if I am not mistaking another Japanese tour bus just arrived so we better move on because if we get mixed up with them we are doomed, they are like quick sand and impossible to escape from”.
On the right of the photo there is an ancient Angkor statue wrapped in saffron … never mind just a tourist:
No tourist site is complete without a femininely sitting man wearing sneakers without socks:
Bored to death at the Seventh Wonder Of The World … a.k.a. “this vacation sucks”:
Head of Ancient Angkor Goddess named … never mind, just a goofy American tourist:
Horrified Japanese onlookers gasp for air while witnessing Godzilla destroying Angkor Wat:
They are heeeeere:
Conversation overheard: “you were so right we should have gone to the GAP Outlet store today”:
A perfect demonstration of a cute bending backwards photography technique:
A memorable group photo for years to cherish incorporating the spirit of Angkor Wat … with a dozen more tourist in the background:
I took this photo of some beautiful steps leading up to the top of Angkor Wat through a passage way. A timeless photo and a unique experience … I felt deeply connected to the Angkor era; monks perhaps for centuries saw these steps the same way I did … minus the bright red NO ACCESS sign:
Steps of the magnificent Angkor Wat (time to fire up Photoshop):
NO ACCESS! HA! What are you gonna do? We already got your money suckers …