If you go to Cambodia these days, be prepared for HUGE crowds of tourists! The Chinese have really invaded. They come by the busloads. The good news is that you can predict where they will be, so the trick is to go where they are NOT. For example, most all of the tourists will be at Angkor Wat to see the sunrise. They start arriving at 4:30 in the morning (or maybe earlier). By the time the sun starts coming up, there will be literally thousands of people there…sometimes 50 people thick along the pond in front of Angkor Wat. So the trick? Great time to go to Bayon or Ta Prohm as there will be very little people there. But, as soon as the sun is up, people will start to invade Ta Prohm as that is the next temple on the list after the sun rise.
The first photo is the East Gate of Ta Prohm. There was only one or two people here when I got this photo, but an hour later, it would have been impossible to get a photo without someone else in the photo. The tourists are mostly Chinese, but also in the mix are tons of Koreans and some other people from Asian countries, and then a splattering of Europeans. I don’t want to pick on the Chinese alone, as they were not the only tourists in the Angkor Wat complex that were totally oblivious of others wanting to get a nice photo of the temples with no people. Some were very nice, and would see a couple of photographers waiting to get a shot, and would move out of the way giving others a turn at taking a photo. But, OTHERS?? Holy Cow!! I sometimes had to wait up to a half hour for some couples to take their selfies from 100 different angles and if there was more than one or two in the group, there would be a photo for every possible grouping of people. In the meantime, there would be four or five photographers with their cameras on tripods waiting for their turn to take a photo with the “selfie people” totally oblivious they were in the way. Us photographers would look at each other, shrug our shoulders, and give the WTF expression to each other…funny. At times, a photographer would just give up (sometimes me), and walk over to the group, and point out all of the people waiting to take a photo, and ask them politely to move out of the way. Whenever I did that, the people would usually be surprised, and apologize, and then move out of the way. But oh my God, it can be really frustrating!
The nice thing is that us photographers are really nice to each other. We respect each other’s space, and are careful to not set up our tripod in the middle of someone else’s photo. If there is a great spot to set up the tripod, and another photographer has already claimed the spot, they are usually really good at getting the shot, and then giving up the spot for another photographer. But, non-photographers don’t have a clue about these “norms”, and jump right in front of a famous temple and at times climb on the temples (despite the signs saying to NOT climb), and remain there in front of all the “real” photographers destroying any good photo. Who wants a photo of the East Entrance of Ta Prohm with two ladies wearing flowered hats and umbrellas hanging out of a window or climbing the roots of a tree growing on the ruins?? Not me….haha.
The photo below is of Bayon. I think my favorite temple in the Angkor Wat Complex. When I arrived at Bayon, I was at the front entrance, and five tour buses of tourists had just arrived. I saw them all getting off the bus, and knew I had only a few minutes before it would be impossible to get a photo without someone in it. So, I booked it to the back of the temple literally running on around the temple to the back. There was nobody there, so quickly set up my tripod, and took some shots. Within ten minutes, there were others there. There is also something about seeing a photographer with his/her tripod set up that attracts other people. They think, “I gotta go over there where that guy is…must be something good over there!!” I think that is what happened, cause I saw a small group of Chinese that spotted me taking photos, and they then walked over. But instead of walking over to where I was, they walked into my scene I had set up. There’s just no way to avoid this, I guess. This is the way the world is today!!
I did some serious photoshop work on this photo. There was scaffolding all over the place, and a really ugly green and blue tarp draped over the foreground on the right. I spent about an hour clone stamping the scaffolding and tarps out of the photo. If you look carefully, you will see my sloppy work, but if I hadn’t told you this beforehand, you probably would not even notice…haha!