Stop Ruining My Sunset

In Cambodia, Sights by Nick1 Comment

You’ve seen entitlement before.

She’s the woman yapping on her phone at the movies. He’s the old man chasing kids away from the end of his driveway because they interrupted his late-afternoon grumble session. She’s the recent college grad who expects a 6-figure starting salary with her 2.5 GPA.

And now, I present to you The Entitled Tourist.

You are not entitled to a personal movie screening. You are not entitled to the entire cul-de-sac. You are not entitled to a job. And you are not entitled to a solo Angkor Wat sunset.

Allow me to set the scene.

It’s close to sunset at the temples. Everyone and their brother is heading for one place—the main temple, the namesake, the one-and-only, Angkor Wat. Its sunset views are legendary, and everybody wants a slice of that hot action.

Ground zero is west of the temple, within the exterior moat and in front of its smaller ponds. You’re supposed to snap a shot of the temple, set ablaze with the glow of the setting sun, reflected in the pool of water.

It’s simple. Stand in front of the pond, line up the shot, pull the trigger. Go home a hero.

But there’s one (thousand) obstacles standing in your way—everyone else.

I realize I’m in the minority when it comes to taking pictures. I don’t believe it’s necessary to include yourself in a picture of a temple, your food, or an interesting car crash you just happened upon. Isn’t the thing enough? Why can’t we all line up and take unobstructed, glorious pictures of Angkor Wat without clawing each other for prime, narcissistic real estate?

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I can even understand wanting to take group photos in front of the temple. Shit, if I managed to haul my wife and 3 kids across the world to Cambodia, I’m sure as hell getting a sweaty family photo for our mantelpiece out of the deal. But that’s not what I observed.

What I observed were grown men and women creating their own personal photo-fiefdoms in front of Angkor’s ponds. Any sign of weakness from fellow picture-posers was pretext enough for another to invade and annex their land.

But of all these picture-Hitlers, one man stood head-and-shoulders above the rest. He treated Angkor Wat like his own personal studio. His cameraman called out poses to and fro, barking orders at passersby not to intrude on his liege’s domain.

“Sir! Excuse me, we’re trying to take a photo! Just one minute!”

Oh, I had no idea!

But it wasn’t “just one minute.” As peak lighting conditions began to wane, impatience grew. There would soon be a mutiny. I feared the king would be tossed into the pond and fall victim to Angkor’s infamous piranhas.*

*I made this up.

The dam burst. I was first to say “fuck it.” I walked right up next to him, knelt down and took a few pictures. That’s it.

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They aren’t perfect, because I don’t have hours to stake out and claim a photographer’s perch. But they look nice, and I don’t have to include my mug to prove I was here.

Just take my word for it.

Because when you concentrate all of your efforts on one single point you read about in a guidebook, you miss out on other cool shit like this…

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What do you think?

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