SUN SETTING ON FREE TEMPLE ACCESS
ONE of the perks of living in Siem Reap – free access to the temples after 5pm, just in time for sunset – could be a thing of the past. The problem is that too many people are taking advantage of this. Word has spread through budget traveller ranks that a $20 day pass to the temples can be dodged simply by waiting until 5pm to make the trek. The added bonus, of course, is sunset views – another big drawcard.
The issue was addressed during the Unesco-backed International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Sites of Angkor meeting in town on June 8-9, and became a talking point at several sideline meetings.
During the ICC meet, World Monument Fund project director Glenn Boornazian called for the creation of a “tour circulation” program to cut down on sunrise and sunset visits at popular temple sites including Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm.
He said: “The numbers of sunset tours at Angkor temples are creating dangers for tourists. We have increased traffic and pollution around the drop-off sites.
“It’s a growing problem. The majority of visits are going through after 5pm because they don’t have to pay.”
KINGDOM OF HONESTY
KOLKATA resident Mihir Chatterjee, an auditor for ActionAid International, visited Siem Reap recently and was highly impressed by the tuk tuk driver she hired in the Kingdom.
She writes: “I would like to bring to your kind attention Mr Ratany Kha, the very honest tuk tuk driver I met in Siem Reap. As a tourist (from India), I hired the services of Ratany (Regn No 9007) for the whole day of May 7.
“During the tour, I lost my purse containing all my money, keys etc. and I was not even aware of the fact that I had lost it.
“When I returned to the tuk tuk after visiting one of the temples, Ratany handed me back my purse intact. He [would] not even accept a small token of [my appreciation]. I am indeed very happy to have encountered such an honest person and shall be thankful if his honesty can be highlighted. Ratany’s telephone numbers are (855) 97 93 33 017, (855) 68 700 999.
“In today’s world it is indeed rare to find such honest persons.”