The temples of Siem Reap have to be seen to be believed. The footprint of these magnificent buildings cover a small city and beyond. The last twenty years have seen a boom in visitors to this area providing this country with much needed tourist dollars whether they be spent by a student on a gap year trail or a middle aged lets do it whilst we can adventure.
But these temples are crumbling…… the ground they are built on is losing water as we travellers shower off the dust a couple of times day, swim in hotel pools or chink ice in our drinks……..we are using the very water that these temples need and to be fair most of us wouldn’t be aware of this. The temples are thirsty or at least their foundations are, in some areas the land is sinking where it is drying too much.
Not only that but the jungle is reclaiming the land, whilst it makes very good snap shots of huge buttress roots pushing the stones and growing up through the temples one has to ask who is holding who up? Is the tree supporting the temple or vice versa?
Then there are the not so considerate travellers who take chunks of rock for mementoes or trail their greasy fingers over the relief work, its isn’t much but as a collective its huge. The humidity adds to the wearing away of the surface and bat and bird droppings contribute to this too.
I can see in the past two years already things are changing, partnerships are being established such as the India Cambodia Cooperation project for conservation and restoration of Ta Promh. Areas are cordoned off to avoid more damage, wooden stair ways and paths have been made to indicate dedicated walking routes……. there are probably other projects that I’m not aware of… I’m glad to see these things happening.
I hope this is enough but fellow traveller be mindful, go and see but take away just a snap shot and a memory because you will want your grandchildren to see such things when you are waxing lyrical about your travels.