Ta ProhmTa Phrom was initiated in 1186 by King Jayavarman VII based on carvings found at the site. This style of temple is a flat temple, as opposed to Angkor Wat which is a mountain type temple. This means there are no big rises, it just goes from room to room, usually connected by corridors.
This temple is truly a ruin; the jungle had reclaimed it. The trees that have become part of the structure itself are the main features that it is known for around the world. It is under reconstruction by the Government of India, using locals for labor and mason work. There has been little to no progress on the reconstruction in the 5 years I have been coming here.
The Arrival<Lucky, my driver, dropped me off at the west end parking and vending area, outside the surrounding wall.
The hawkers were ready and as this may be the most popular spots in the park, they were on me as soon as I disembarked. While they all seem to speak English, none seem to know the word 'No'. Lucky said he would pick me up on the west side parking area, which allowed me to traverse the very long temple grounds (the temple itself is not that large) without having to backtrack.
The entrance is a gate structure in the grounds wall, to a long path through the jungle towards the bridge over the now mostly-dry moat. The entire way I was approached by more vendors for flower bracelets, silks, books, etc.
The TempleThe temple is another laterite and sandstone structure, and you see the effect of the trees as you cross the bridge. They have done quite a job of moving many portions of the temple off its balance point, toppling large areas of corridors and rooms.
The profusion of stone in piles, walls in hurdy gurdy fashion, things that appear ready to fall at any moment, the ruin of it all is very dark in the emotions that swept me as scrambled through the approved path.
Hordes of tourists were around the trees making clean pictures rather difficult. As you may have noticed, I don't really do selfies because it's not about me, but the places I go.
The trees really do make the site. The integration of nature and man, making it look as though man has not been here in hundreds of years, and still has not returned, evoke such a unique feeling of ephemerality that I have not experienced in other places of my travels even to this day.
Walking AroundAfter touring the inside of the primary temple, I walked back around to the outer wall path, and got the full court press by a group of kids selling postcards for $2.50. They finally got me, and I broke down. Wow, was that a mistake. Now I was marked, and the swarm did not abate for over 100 meters.
Children will use every hook they can to sway you, such as 'Oh, I will not be able to afford to go to school' (uniforms and school is covered by the Cambodian govt.) 'I will not be able to eat' (Given their good physical state, I doubt that one too). But yes, it's a rough one to walk away from.
The final path to the west is a good long distance, and I was feeling it by this time in the 102 degree heat. There were very few hawkers on this stretch other than a book seller.
At the exit, and to the parking lot, there are stands and stalls, restaurants and other things for those inclined. I have eaten at these types. The prices can be a bit out of line, and the service generally is exceptionally transactional. The food is not what I would call high end but it does have flavor. I prefer the locals' places in Siem Reap or actually in villages not by temples.
SummaryThis one is an ironclad gold standard must see. Steel yourself for the onslaught of vendors and once you're inside you are generally free to roam. Patience is a must for a good shot of the trees. In the years since, I have garnered the shots I want, but as this was my first trip I struggled on a few.
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