On our way to the next temple, Ta Prohm, we encountered a monkey troupe on the side of the road. While we were stopped waiting to go, our guide rolled the window down and offered candy, which two of the younger monkeys gladly accepted, perched on the hood of the car as they enjoyed their treat.
I have to admit, I was expecting to be completely underwhelmed by Ta Prohm, or, as everyone better knows it, the Tomb Raider temple, so called because it was used in filming for the Angelina Jolie movie of that name. I figured it was all hype and it wouldn’t be anything to write home about. And I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was incredible. Every single inch of it. It blew me away in the best of ways.
My mom was feeling the heat, so she sat outside while my dad and I went exploring, our guide trailing along in our wake. We were both immediately smitten by the overgrown, somewhat derelict look and feel of the temple. The jungle devoured Ta Prohm, and hasn’t given it back yet (and restoration is only partially complete), which makes it feel wild and mysterious. Even with tons of tourists inside trying to get the requisite photo of them and one of the trees that have become one with the temple.
It’s not very big, built in a different style and scale than Angkor Wat, so there weren’t so many stairs to navigate, but still lots of neat passageways and courtyards to explore. We actually missed part of the temple on this day because we chose to divert from the suggested route and came in the back. But we had already decided after just few minutes that we had to come back when it was cooler and less densely packed with tourists, so my mom could see it. That’s how much we liked it.
I grabbed as many pictures as I could while dodging other tourists, and just grinned stupidly at the ruins’ beauty, happily overwhelmed in a way I wasn’t by Angkor Wat itself. I quickly realized that I (and my dad) preferred the more run-down state of Ta Prohn (and Bayon to come) than the completeness of Angkor Wat. Beauty in imperfection? A bit of that and a more primal, instinctual feel, like a wild adventure could happen there at any moment. Definitely in my top 10, and quite possibly my top 5, of places I’ve visited around the world.
But were we weren’t done with amazing places for the day, as next up was a temple I had eagerly been looking forward to, Bayon, temple of faces.
As always, click the pictures for larger versions. And never fear, you’ll see more of Ta Prohm here in a couple of days.