Two million foreign visitors visit the thousand year old Angkor temples in Cambodia a year. The nearest town, Siem Reap, once a quaint colonial French backwater, is now a tourist ghetto with more than 700 hotels, a town dedicated to the US dollar where Cambodia’s brutal poverty, corruption and impunity are barely visible to the casual observer – and let’s face it, from the tourists to the US and Chinese governments, to the EU and the UN, observers outdo each other in casualness when it comes to everyone’s quiet support of one of Asia’s best-running kleptocracies.
The tourists come to blankly stare at history, ignore the unpalatable present and engage in communal bad taste, purchasing Orientalist crap in countless souvenir shops. Crocodile leather is all the rage. A wallet doesn’t come cheap at around US$200, but for those who have got it all already….
CAMBODIA // AUGUST 2016