The many faces of Bayon is one of the most popular temples in Angkor and you can really see why. It beautiful and complex. The stone face of a nameless person tower over the temple from every angle. Where ever you look there are hundreds of them.
The Ta Prohm temple area is covered in trees but interestingly these trees grow from above. Seeds land in the upper branches of a tree and then grow down to the ground. As they grow they wrap themselves around the host trees trunk, slowly engulfing and encasing the trunk until the host tree dies. Sometimes the tree finds it difficult to find its way to the ground and creates something hauntingly beautiful, like over this doorway.
I think I have covered enough of the darker sides to visiting Cambodia. It is an amazing country and shouldn’t be missed when travelling through south-east Asia. One of the biggest motivators for people to travel to the country is also worth a mention. In this case pictures speak louder than words has never been more true.
Outside of Siem Reap is the temple complex of Angkor, a UNESCO heritage site with beauty that exceeds your imagination. Each temple different to the last, the momentous task of construction and the smallest details that you would think were beyond the abilities of any human being. From Ta Prohm where the trees have taken over, to the smiling faces of Bayon, to the iconic towers of Angkor Wat, each temple a symbol to those who constructed them those many years ago.
The term orphanage tourism seems unbelievable when you first hear it. To benefit from the unfortunate is against most peoples human nature but when there is money to be made others are willing to prey on the unsuspecting. Some of us are more fortunate than others and like to give their time and sometimes money to help those who could benefit from it.
Orphanage tourism is becoming a large concern in less developed countries, especially in Cambodia. Due to the increase in tourism in the area the amount of orphanages has increased 75% in the last five years. It is believed that 77% of children aren’t even orphans. Parents will put their children into care with the hope they will receive a better education, some children are bought or even rented by the institution.
This is exceptionally bad for the children, the people offering to help have no background checks and make an attachment with the children before leaving. This can leave the children with life long attachment issues and affect their development. Children are kept in conditions worse than the minimum standards set by the government in order to receive larger donations from visitors. These donations often don’t see their way to the children.
Tour operators have even jumped on the band wagon and began operating tours that include volunteering in orphanages. Google will find over 500,000 sites for volunteering in orphanages and there are 30 tour operators sending volunteers to orphanages abroad in the UK alone. We have to realise as travellers that what we see isn’t always presented truthfully and giving money to those who look like they need it can sometimes do more harm than good.
Read more about the Darker Side of Tourism.