The faded ‘No Climbing’ signs are no match for the tourists jostling to capture that perfect shot of the sun setting over the temple of Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s most famous attraction, writes Michelle Fitzpatrick (AFP).
At Angkor Wat, the most impressive of the park’s many temples, tourists are largely free to wander around the 12th-century complex, ignoring one-way signs and clambering over fallen stones.
Many lean against the ancient walls, while others trace delicate bas reliefs with their fingers.
“You start to notice a little bit of wear and tear and you’re not sure if it’s from centuries of use or if it’s from lots of tourists,” said Rona Soranno, 36, from California, after completing a tour of the temple’s inner courtyard.
Her 33-year-old partner Marcus Welsh added: “On the one hand it’s totally awesome that I am able to step on the stones and be close to so much history, but you have to wonder what it’s going to look like years from now.”
According to the Global Heritage Fund, a US-based non-profit organisation that works to protect heritage sites in developing countries, “Angkor is highly endangered from this lack of control.”