By John Lechner
Other Temples near Siem Reap in Cambodia
As I have mentioned in my previous posts on the temples there is much to see but you need to pace yourself, for one to combat the heat and humidity but also so that you don't get temple fatigue. Seriously, they are wondrous, gobsmacking even when you think about the tools and technology they had to use but you can also get bored. So take care not to OD on the temples.
For my second day at the temples I headed out to Ta Prohm, this is the temple featured in Tomb Raider with Angeline Jole. When I walked through the main entrance at first I was crestfallen. There was scaffolding everywhere, workman everywhere and I thought this is not what I had expected. Thankfully this was confined to one space at Ta Prohm and the was far more to explore. The complex is huge and definitely one of my favourites. Personally Ta Prohm and Preah Khan are the best, I love how both have succumbed to the jungle. Though the jungle is not being fought hard by the park management in the name of saving the temples it shows us that man is but a force on earth and that nature is equally powerful.
The trees sprouting from the ruins of the temple are huge. Some are massive 50-60 metres tall. The magic I had expected at Angkor Wat I experienced at Ta Prohm it is a magnificent complex and really is a sight to behold. Take you time exploring the complex and find the small courtyards and spaces where you are there only one present.
After exploring Ta Prohm I moved on to Ta Keo, the contrast couldn't have been more stark, from a sprawling complex to a single large pyramid. The stairs at Ta Keo will make you dizzy, they are so steep it almost feels like you are climbing a ladder and some steps are less than 150mm (6 inches wide) barely enough for your toes. After climbing in the morning heat and humidity you feel like you have had a workout. I am not a religious person but after making one of these monumental climbs I felt moved to make an offering to Buddha. The view from the shrine is breathtaking and worth every single drop of sweat.
After Ta Keo we visited a few smaller temples and for me they blended together. But one the way back to the hotel we passed by Bayon and saw the elephants on the trail so I stopped to take a few pics. The elephant handlers don't like you doing this, my guess is because they can't squeeze a few dollars from you. This is one of the things that started to affect me on my visit. At every turn almost everyone you meet is aiming to find a way to squeeze you for a dollar or two. I am and was happy to help where I could and certainly tipped everyone who served me in some way but it does wear you down.
After this it was time for some breakfast and some downtime catching up on my diary, editing and a few mins spare for a foot massage.
In the afternoon I headed out to Pre Rup, with a some focus, to catch the sunset. The Pre Rup sunset is on the must do list for good reason. This tall temple has multiple levels up high were you overlook both ruins and the jungle to see the sun set. Pre Rup had a decent crowd for the sunset with many staking their claim early. Funnily when I arrived none had gone to where I considered the best spot for the golden hour. Most were perched on the edge of the upper level. I went down one level. This not only gave me more space to work with my tripod but more importantly gave me a clear view of the horizon with a proud sentinel lion in the foreground.
The sunset was beautiful if missing a bit of colour. Sadly the park staff started hustling us away the moment the sun dipped below the horizon, well before the light was at its best.
Overall a good day in the temples.
Sunset over Pre Rup