Having been a regular visitor to Angkor for well over a decade I have seen many changes here. When I first came here to live in 2003, Angkor had 250,000 visitors. Now in 2013 the projected visitor numbers are approaching 3 million – that is as many in one month than for the whole year 10 years ago.
The numbers of visitors and the important health and safety issues have meant that a lot of potentially dangerous structures at the temples have had to be stabilised by timber supports. Large scale restoration projects have been carried out to ensure the preservation of the temples for future generations. Rotten trees have had to be chopped down, walkways and steps have been added for both the comfort of the visitor and, more importantly, to preserve the fragile sandstone against the damage caused by millions of tourists’ feet.
All this has detracted from the visual impact of these fabulous monuments. Several years ago an Australian photographer friend described these restoration projects as a conspiracy against photographers. I tried to explain that these were necessary to preserve the temples.
But last week I have seen one of the most stunning and popular views obscured by insensitive placement of a wooden fence. The lower part of the so-called Tomb Raider tree in Ta Prohm has now been totally obscured by this fence, pictured here a few days after its construction. I am asking myself the question.
Why have they done such an insensitive thing, spoiling the views of millions of tourists? I saw a number of tourists with cameras looking so disappointed to see such a dream view despoiled.
I do hope that the Apsara Authority reconsiders the position of this fence and its associated platform repositioned so that the original view is restored.