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