Angkor Wat as a backdrop for selfies

Simo Capecchi from Cambodia – part one

Ta Prohm / Angkor Wat

Last July I have been four days in Cambodia after Singapore USK Symposium, like a group of fellow sketchers. Too briefly to draw and understand properly what I had in front of me and not the right season to be there – so hot and damp – but I’m glad I did it anyway! The temples ruins are still like a dreamy vision in my mind.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is visited by over two millions people every year. Important and necessary for such a poor country but also a big issue in therms of preservation and security and, from visitors point of view, to enjoy the site you have to deal with it.

A procession of people coming from all over the world gather in this ancient and sacred place, stand the heat and humidity to practice contemporary rituals. Above all, the selfie one.

Selfie sticks replaced joss sticks.

Angkor Wat

Some were performing more sophisticated rituals, like a just married couple that was shooting an entire reportage with an easel, wearing their wedding suits. Or a young girl that was posing for her model portfolio, with her mother (?) as a photographer – quite a task to walk with heels in such a place.

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

The list of forbidden things (seldom respected) gives an idea of what most of the people do inside this huge archeological and sacred area. One goes like this:

7. Monks. Monks are revered and respected. Women should not touch nor stand or sit too close to monks. If you want to take pictures, please ask for permission first.

I felt sympathy for monks when I started having hard times myself, dealing with intruding tourists shooting photos at me drawing, without keeping any “security distance”. For the first time I was rude to someone approaching me while drawing and felt bad afterwards. Mixed feeling as I was there to take home my souvenirs, like everyone else. Well, at least I was “properly dressed”, sitting silently and not taking selfies with the monks…

My personal success has been when a monk himself came to sit near me and I was finally happy to share my sketchbook with him. Too bad his English was really basic, it could have been really interesting to have a conversation with him!



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