Complaints About Annoying Tourists Gettin In My Way

As though I were not an equally-annoying tourist myself, gettin in everyone else’s way…

My favorite temples at Angkor were the less famous, more deserted ones. Generally the main temples are all manicured, scrubbed clean of encroaching roots and moss, with most of the rubble and ruin removed. But the lesser sites are often left more or less alone, in a gracefully dilapidated, overgrown-jungle state that makes you feel like a nineteenth-century explorer, coming across them for the first time. I had the most fun at Angkor at the random, lesser temples, exploring alone and imagining myself to be a intrepid, ruggedly handsome archaeologist with nerves of steel but a soft heart (which, you know, except for the archaeologist part ive got covered.. “California Shaw” they call me)

But mostly I just liked getting away from all the other tourists. The main ruins (Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm) are just packed with busload after busload of Chinese tour groups who make tons of noise and take turns standing in front of all the good photo ops in an interminable stream of opaque, obscurring bodies. And I dont mean Chinese in a racist “i-actually-mean-asian” way… they were all from China. Probably 90% of the big tourbus groups seemed to be.

So basically all my photos of the “famous” sites ended up looking like this:

Annoying Tourists at Ta Prohm

which captures the general overflowing-with-people atmosphere of the place. Once that group got down from their little tableau, there’d be another waiting in the wings to rush up and get their photo taken as well. And i guess my photos like this do end up accurately depicting what it was like. But I’m creating art here people! Give me room to work! Well not really—I’m actually just taking tourist pictures, but I dont really want to always have to remember all the random groups of middle-aged people when looking through my travel memories!

Apparently though, for some reason a lot of them wanted to always remember me. I seriously was asked to pose for a picture with random people on at least three occasions. I’d like to believe they were smitten with my intrepid, ruggedly handsome archaeologist looks. But they all seemed to find me very funny, so it was more likely they just wanted to go home and show their friends the freakishly sweaty man with all the hair on his face. I’ve got a pretty good beard goin on here at this point, and it’s a big hit in Asia. All the tuk-tuk drivers get my attention with “hey yo hair man!” (nobody seems to know the word for beard), little children point at me as I pass, and everyone always seems to want to know how old I am. It seems I am far too young to be sporting such a fantastic beard.

Taylor at Ta Prohm Entrance

It’s not even that serious a beard yet, really. Kinda in the scraggly-itchy stage. But it definitely makes me a curiosity. When traveling in europe a beard tends to keep people away from you, but in asia it makes you a sideshow.

And as long as we’re talking about my photos being ruined by all the other people around, there is an epidemic of poor composition raging in the tourists of the world. I hardly ever ask people to take pictures of me in front of things, because they always end up looking like this:

Taylor and Half a Head

Like I wanted a picture of Taylor and Half a Giant Head. These photos always have the person (me) framed dead-center with the background arbitrarily chopped off to keep me in the middle of frame. I would think it is obvious that the true subject of the photo was supposed to be the amazing archaeological object that I’m probably never going to see again, but no. Most people go to great lengths, squatting down, walking side to side, zooming, to keep Taylor the central and only subject of the photo.

Taylor at Ta Prohm

That one’s a bit better (and I’ve subsequently cropped it a bit with Picnik). But still. There was a whole big building off to the right there that you cant see. And of course you cant ask people to take a photo again. They’re already being very nice and accommodating, helping the lonely single traveler with all the hair on his face. Its not my place to complain.

I mean I’m not claiming to be some kind of artistic genius or anything. I hardly know the first thing about composition. But I at least try to get the subject in frame. I mean come on tourists! Lets get it together! I have valuable memories to capture! Stop impeding me! Why am I sweating so much!?

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  1. Oct 22nd, 2007at8:39 am

    Tay-Sachs. I am the worst friend ever. Because of my work misery (and possibly early-onset Alzheimer’s), I forgot entirely that you were travel-blogging. I could have been enjoying this the whole time! It could have been whisking me away from work to a magical land or lands! I laffed and laffed at the part about the poorly composed pictures by tourists. “Can you make sure to get my thighs in the shot?”


  2. rebecca
    Oct 22nd, 2007at1:10 pm

    Your lush beard is obviously worthy more than that thousands year old stone head.

  3. Rachel
    Oct 28th, 2007at1:25 pm

    Taylor- I’m totally enjoying your blog. Also, it is much better than studying for midterms.

    I remember sweating and sweating like a disgusting american, and that if I didnt feel gross enough already, Cambodian people didnt seem to sweat at all. The beard stuff though, I’ll have to take your word on that. My crazy tropical jew-fro was not of much interest.

  4. Oct 30th, 2007at7:09 am

    I’ll trade you my beard for a Tropical Jew-Fro any day. That sounds like a flavor of capri-sun or something.

    Also I learned a secret: in thailand at least, they shower like 3 times a day! So it’s not that they dont sweat, they’re just better about constantly refreshing themselves and not smelling like a stinky american.


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