The Bayon, Cambodia

“My first trip to the temples outside of SIEM REAP was a decade ago. Not age past, but long enough to notice many changes today. Preservation should be at the heart of Angkor’s temples, but there’s a sideshow element to them today. I remember a more reserved version of Ta Prohm from my first trip. It was grand and elegant and overgrown. You could walk up to the trees and crumbling doorways. On my last visit, I saw that roped-off wooden platforms control where you can go. People queue for photographs, and it all feels a bit false. I was torn. Preservation must come first, but surely there’s a way to keep this from becoming a theme park. This photograph was taken later in the afternoon at The Bayon and there weren’t as many people. Two monks were chatting in the inner courtyard. There were no ropes or platforms; no predetermined photo ops. For a moment, it felt timeless: the crumbling walkways, wide arches and passive, all-seeing stone faces looming above. I first saw this in black and white. I guess I was feeling nostalgic for a picture that is getting more difficult to take.”

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