World’s Greatest… (Fill in the Blank)
It is amazing how many articles there are on the Internet that have titles like, “Top Ten Beaches in the World,” ” Cities You Need to Visit Right Now!” and “World’s Most Disappointing Cities.” Apparently these sites attract a lot of attention because they seem to drive a lot of traffic.
What troubles me is that as you look at the images and the credits for those images, you realize that the person writing the post may never have been to any of these destinations. They look at a lot of photos from the Internet, do a bit of Google searching and decide that these must be “The Most Unusual Hotels in the World.”
How would they know if they haven’t been there? What’s more, those of us who do a lot of traveling can tell you that some sights are rather disappointing if you aren’t there at the right time. I recently made arrangements with a tuk-tuk driver to get me to the huge main temple at Angkor Wat before the sun rose. I wanted to get the iconic shot you have all seen of the sun rising over the majestic structures that comprise the temple. However, a bit of pre-planning, something absolutely necessary if you hope to be a great landscape photographer, will show you that there are only two times of the year when this shot is possible. The temple was built so that it faces due west, something that was rather rare in its day. For this reason, the best times to catch the sun rising over the temple are at the vernal and autumnal equinox when the sun rises in its most Easterly trajectory.
I had a further problem, it was raining as I crossed the bridge toward the temple in total darkness. When I got to the big pond in front of the temple I also discovered another problems. I was not alone. Hundreds of tourists had made the early moring journey to get the same shot I was hoping to get. Later I would learn of yet another challenge with this shot, the pond is now filled with waterlilies, preventing the iconic reflection we are used to seeing.
Does that mean that Angkor Wat is not one of the great wonders of the world, one that you should absolutely go see if you ever get the chance? No way. It truly is an amazing place and if you do go you need to dedicate several days to seeing it all; it’s just that big.
However, I have also been to other places that are pretty spectacular that you are likely to never find on a list of “The World’s Greatest… ” A few weeks after going to Angkor Way I rode a motorcyle to the top of Bokor Mountain, a few hundred miles away. At the very top is a huge statue of Buddha that is pretty impressive, though nothing compared to magnificent temples at Angkor Wat. However, as I got there the moist air from the sea just a few miles to the south, was rising up along the mountainside and beginning to form clouds. The view over the cliff as these clouds raced up the cliff to form the clouds that frequently shroud Bokor Mountain, was spectacular. I was mesmerized for a long time by what I was seeing.
Can I promise that you will see this amazing sight if you make your way to the top of Bokor? No, but I can encourage you to see a lot of things all over the world. Sometimes you are just in the right place at the right time to see something truly remarkable. Don’t believe all the hype about the “World’s Best… ” Just go and see. You, like me, may find that the greatest spot in the world is the one you are looking at right this moment. And when you do,
Learn more about the author and his adventures in Cambodia at his blog: DatelineCambodia.WordPress.com