Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat

Siem Reap Travel Blog

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Ta Prohm
 

He wanted ten, I offered five, and got the motorbike taxi for $7. A full day should be $8-10 by one guidebook that I saw, so my driver got a good deal and eventually stopped his well-practiced whine for one more dollar. We headed north 6 kilometers to the massive Angkor Archaeology Park, stopping to buy an entrance ticket for $20. Though it was one o'clock in the afternoon, I had to pay the full day rate.

 

I had inadvertently deleted all of the Siem Reap and Angkor Wat pictures this summer  that I had  taken on my trip through here in January.  Of the two weeks I was here then, I only spent half a day out at the temples. I merged with the masses, mostly Japanese, and darted through  Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, the Bayon,  Ta Prohm,  and the Terrace of the Elephants.

Agressive tree
I had seen enough by the time the mid-day sun became unbearable.

 

Besides Angkor Wat, I want to replace the deleted pictures of Ta Prohm. Four to five hours would be sufficient. This time I decided to do it in the afternoon and visit Ta Prohm first, since the sun is better for photographing  Angkor Wat later in the day. 

 

Ta Prohm was constructed in the mid 12th - early 13th Century as a Buddhist monastery and remains only partially cleared of jungle overgrowth. Most of its darkened corridors and open plazas are littered with debris of collapsed moss-covered stones and pillars. Many of its walls and towers sprout the roots of massive fig and silk-cotton trees, showing  the aggressive growth of jungle reclaiming the areas once cleared.

Apsaras at Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm makes it easy to visualize what the original discoverers of the Angkor sites must have seen when they were found in the 1860's in thick jungle. The moto dropped me at the outer wall's west gate and I walked the kilometer through the complex to the east gate.

 

We continued past several smaller temple ruins, through the sprawling Angkor Thom complex, and on to the legendary Angkor Wat. Blue-shirted guards clipped another corner of my ticket and I walked across the wide moat along the western causeway to reach the outer wall. The outer wall measures 1.3 X 1.5 kilometers. This causeway collapsed in October 1952 and is currently about half restored.

 

Inside the outer wall, you get the first glimpse of  Angkor Wat, still more than half a kilometer away; visually, architecturally, and artistically breathtaking.

Angkor Wat from north reflecting pool
The sight stirs awe and wonder to rival that of a first encounter with the Taj Mahal or the Great Pyramids. Angkor Wat is a massive three-tiered pyramid  crowned by five towers rising 65 meters from ground level. As I approached closer, its detail, depth, and complexity became more apparent. On my last visit, I missed that awe by making the mistake of a morning visit since the sun was behind the structure. Now, after 2:00 p.m., the sight is awesome.

 

The exterior wall of the first level is covered with intricately carved bas-reliefs. A guide or good guidebook here would be handy to decipher the scenes. Wooden steps have been added to lead onto the first tier. Several of its walled corridors are active with orange-clad Buddha statues and burning incense.

 

A moat once filled the grassy space between the first and second tiers.

A tower at the outer wall
The corners of that walled tier contains deep, stepped, indoor bathing pools.  All the steep steps leading to the top tier and temple interior with its five towers were closed. Scaffolding supported workers reinforcing weakened areas with heavy  wooden beams. New wooden stairs were being built for future access. Other workers were busy reconstructing smaller buildings. Angkor Wat has received foreign visitors for more than a hundred years and until recently they were free to roam the plazas, corridors and grounds at will. Millions of visitors each year have added wear and tear to that of weather and time. The complex was built from 1113 to 1150 and is Cambodia's primary attraction.

 

There didn't seem to be as many visitors as on my last visit, and combined with limited access, I was able to breeze through the various corridors and chambers at a brisk pace.

Monks at Angkor Wat
With no guide or guidebook, I took a lot of pictures which I will study later. It was 4:00 p.m. when I returned to the Riverside. I spent a couple of hours editing the 155 pictures (deleting many), then walked into town. Sometime in the future, back at home, I'll find a guidebook and study up on what I had seen. Then, I will come back with more interest and understanding, Angkor Wat should still be here.

RoadToJoy says:
Great writing!
Posted on: Mar 30, 2008
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Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Agressive tree
Agressive tree
Apsaras at Ta Prohm
Apsaras at Ta Prohm
Angkor Wat from north reflecting p…
Angkor Wat from north reflecting …
A tower at the outer wall
A tower at the outer wall
Monks at Angkor Wat
Monks at Angkor Wat
One of the buildings inside the ou…
One of the buildings inside the o…
Area between inner wall and first …
Area between inner wall and first…
East meets West
East meets West
Approaching Angkor Wat.
Approaching Angkor Wat.
One of the corner towers.
One of the corner towers.
The approach.
The approach.
Causeway leading to the outer wall.
Causeway leading to the outer wall.
Monks on deck.
Monks on deck.
Roots at Ta Prohm
Roots at Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm rubble
Ta Prohm rubble
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photo by: genetravelling