15 December 2012

A SUNSET FOR THE MASSES

Bakheng temple
So, I did it!! A sunset on the famous Phnom Bakheng mountain. THE sunset that everyone sees when in Angkor!! 

And it wasn't even intentional but the group I travelled with wanted to do the elephant ride up and see the sunset. So, I went along. I didn't ride the elephant though. I felt sorry for the poor creatures who have to go up and down carrying tourists every day. 

Hiking up the mountain
Instead, I chose to walk up the mountain - Phnom Bakheng - with hundreds of other tourists. Mostly Chinese tourists. It was packed, like I had expected it. But I didn't think it would be that bad during the rainy season. I had already heard that it is hell during the dry season, hence I never did it then. 

I had been up on the mountain to enjoy the great view onto the rain forest and Angkor Wat years and years ago. There were no tourists and we also had a much steeper but shorter way to climb up. For the masses who walk up and down today an extra wide path had been created. 

Waiting for the next load
The amount of people allowed on Bakheng temple is now controlled and the stream of tourists is channeled in one direction only. One guy on one side keeps track of how many people climb up and one guy on the other side keeps track of how many people climb down, thus limiting the number of people on the top. I was told that everyone will make it up, though I have no idea what happens when it is too many people in the lines. 

Waiting for space on the top
The sunset? Well, I never waited for it. I saw the amount of people and went down the mountain before the sun ever set. I have seen the most perfect sunsets from other locations and was almost alone, or just with a few people. The sunset from Phnom Bakheng is not for me. Back during another trip to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat, I met a friendly guy from Spain. He told me that the sunset on the mountain here was one of the worst experiences he had during his trip. Tripods are not allowed because of the sheer mass of people crawling around on top of the ruined temple. His name was Jesus....I should have better listened to Jesus :-)

The view onto Angkor Wat in the distance
   
The line waiting to get up

Full even during rainy season



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