Tomb Raiding

The family at Ta Phrohm temple

Today’s temple was Ta Prohm, which is the one which has been taken over by the jungle. Although much of the undergrowth has been removed, its still astonishing to see trees growing over, around and through the temple complex. The roots of the trees wind their way between the stones of the walls, and as they grow they literally pull the walls apart. As we’d chosen to visit early, we again had the luxury of an almost empty temple, which was a fantastic way to see the site. We already knew that some of the Tomb Raider film was shot here, but we also discovered that during the making of “Two Brothers” here 2 years ago, they had released a tiger to roam around the inside of the temple. Glad we missed that! The temple is like a rabbit warren – numerous passageways and doors blocked by piles of falling rubble, and it was really easy to get lost inside.

Ta Phrohm

By 9 o’clock the first bus tour had arrived and the temple suddenly started to fill with people – it changed the character of the temple from the deserted overgrown jungle temple that we’d experienced earlier (When people with American accents start bellowing “Chuck, move left and make your hands look like you’re holding that tree up” you know that the magic has gone!)

Then we called into the temple of Bantai Prae, when the girls stayed in the tuk-tuk and we had a quick wander through – but it was probably one temple too many for now – they have all started to look very ‘samey’. So by 10:30, we were back in the tuk-tuk, heading into town. On the way we stopped at one of the big tourist souvenir shops, to see if the things they had were different to the things we’d seen in the market. These shops are the ones they take busloads of tourists to, especially Japanese and Koreans, because they don’t travel around town independently, and certainly wouldn’t get down to the Old Market area (and the tour guides would discourage them, even if they had the time in their busy schedules). We found that the shops sold exactly the same things (wood carvings, stone carvings and paintings), but at hugely inflated prices – a replica of the Angkor stone faces costing $7 in the market, cost $110 in the shop! (Although the kind lady in the shop offered me a ‘special’ discounted price of $90).