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The "Eighth Wonder of the World" is open to tourists once again.  For now, they are waiting.

The “Eighth Wonder of the World” is open to tourists once again. For now, they are waiting.

SIEM REAP, Cambodia (Aftenposten): If you visit the ancient temple ruins at Angkor Wat today, you’ll have it almost entirely on your own.

Before the pandemic, there were more than two million visitors a year. Now tourists have a lot of space.

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– It’s good to be back, says Monicharya Chan (32).

For two years it was impossible for her to be a guide for tourists in Angkor Wat. Cambodia has been closed due to Corona. Foreigners did not attend. The old temple buildings were left alone.

The transition was brutal. In 2019, 2.2 million people visited these monuments, which have long been on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Ticket sales fell 99 percent when the pandemic hit.

– I didn’t have a job then. I had to move to another city and work as a salesman. But this is where I want to be. Here, among all these beautiful buildings, Chan says.

Almost all of Cambodia’s adult population currently receives two doses of vaccination, and the country is open to fully vaccinated visitors. But for now, let them wait.

– Before the pandemic, there were long queues to get to some buildings or to take pictures from the best sites. Now only about 500 come here every day, says the 32-year-old.

The first temple began here exactly 900 years ago – in 1122 – in the heart of the mighty Khmer Empire. For several hundred years it was hidden in the woods before the emergence of the French colonists in the nineteenth century.

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Together with Machu Picchu and the pyramids in Egypt, it is one of the most famous monuments in the world.

There has never been a better time to go there.

See the photo series below.

Many temple ruins are covered with large trees. The movie Tomb Raider was filmed here.
Among the roots a face appears to greet visitors.
Currently, not many tourists visit the ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The ruins cover an area of ​​1,600 acres, providing plenty of space for the 500 or so who come here every day.
There are plenty of details, not least the faces carved into the sandstone.
If you go a little further, you can see the main temple in all its glory. The temple was a symbol of the wealth and power of the Khmer Empire in the 12th and 13th centuries.
The guards don’t have much to do. In the past, Chinese tourists made up a large percentage of visitors here. As long as China is closed due to Corona, there will be distance between visitors here.
Along the walls are carved countless pictures showing the culture and history of the Khmer Empire.
The Monicharya Chan guide (32) shows how the temple was built on an axis pointing precisely toward zero degrees north.
Both Buddhists and Hindus consider Angkor Wat an important building. Many go here to perform Hajj.
Now that tourists are not attending, the restroom hostess and her daughter can take a little makeup break.
Among the temples there are still farmlands and rice fields. Water buffalo swim in the small channels.
Angkor Wat was begun in 1122 and completed around 1150. Many of the details have survived the test of time.
The wall surrounding many buildings is made of sandstone. These were cut very precisely.
During the epidemic, it was possible to maintain old buildings. In many places, ancient walls are being reconstructed after they collapsed in recent centuries.
A local family dressed in traditional clothes to take pictures in front of the ruins.
Others use their spare time to collect fruit from the trees in and around the temple complex.
At the moment, the fruits are not ripe, but after a few days of storage, the green ones can be eaten.
Tamed monkeys are a common sight in many temples. They are often fed by visiting tourists.
For now, it is calm and peaceful in Angkor Wat. But in time, the hordes of tourists will likely return.