One of the most despicable parts of travel, doubling as fascinating, is tourism. Being bunched up close with people that look like they could be from anywhere, and could be anyone, is unsettling. Especially because everyone is usually pretty normal looking. There was almost no opportunity while on top of Phnom Bakheng to catch the sunrise without some huge-camera-wielding tourist getting into the shot. Or, in some cases, for an interesting dynamic, some no-money-for-huge-camera Cambodian. In my case, I tried to take as many pictures of the tourists as possible without attracting attention. It was pretty easy to take “random shots” of the tourists in a sea of cameras. Oh well, anonymity, oh well.
Another point: this was all in some kind of vague worship of the sun. We all find the sun beautiful. While spiritually it might be as dead as a handful of lint these days, it’s also found this strange attraction now that the contemporary prayer device, the camera, is accessible to so many. Are we witnessing some kind of new-found tourist-generated communal, quasi-spiritual experience? I’m the cynic of the bunch and, like Edward Abbey, who I read years ago, claimed, tourism brings death wherever it goes. In this case, I couldn’t really think about anything-Angkor. Just the tourists and their cameras held like sacrificial animals above their heads.