The Temples of Angkor: Part III
When we visited Ta Prohm on Wednesday, we knew this was a temple to see twice. However, we didn’t want to see it until later in the day, so today we planned to visit some other major sites on the Angkor circuit before arriving at the famous Ta Prohm.
Mr. Tong took us first to Preah Khan, which means “Sacred Sword.” This site, dedicated to 515 divinities in 1191 AD is a maze of well-preserved corridors and vaulted pathways.
Just east of Preah Khan is Preah Neak Poan. Walking over the water on an elevated deck through marshy jungle, our expectation was built up to see this island temple. But we were let down when we reached Neak Poan and we could only view it from a distance. A long wooden fence barred our entry.
Hopping back in the tuk tuk, we headed to Ta Som. Besides the historical motivations, the main draw of this temple (for a photographer such as myself), is the large tree that engulfs the eastern gate.
From Ta Som, we tuk tuked (do you like my made-up verb?) it to East Mebon. We’ve both come to a deeper appreciation for the beauty and strength of elephants through our travels in southeastern Asia, so we were excited to find four identical stone-carved elephants guarding each of the four corners of this temple.
At East Mebon, the light was right, the sky was clear and deep blue, and the composition was perfect. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make a fun time-lapse of us goofing around. In order for us to make a fifteen second video clip, we had to jump around in front of the camera for six minutes. In 85+ (30 Celsius) degree heat, that meant we were drenched in sweat by the time my camera had fired 360 photos.
After catching our breath and wiping the sweat from our eyes, we cooled off as the wind whipped our bodies in the back of the tuk tuk. Our last stop was a re-visit of Ta Prohm, the jungle engulfed temple made even more famous by Angelina Jolie’s “Tomb Raider” film, shot partly on location.
A second visit was definitely worth our time as there is so much to see and photograph. I shot as many trees wrapping their roots around the temple as light allowed. Being that we’ll likely never be in this part of the world again, I let my memory cards fill up with reckless abandon.
It’s not just that trees cling to roofs in Ta Prohm that make the atmosphere so unique. It’s also the fact that many of the trees are MASSIVE. To give some scale, the red wall in this next photo is around ten feet high.
If you’re struggling with understanding the size of the trees, take a look at these photos of my wife and I. I’m six feet, two inches (188 cm), and I feel like a dwarf in Ta Prohm’s jungle.
By the end of three days of temple hopping around the brilliant Angkor empire, we were exhausted…but not finished. We still had much more to see and photograph. In an effort to change up the pace and take in some different aspects of Khmer culture, we decided to visit a local silk farm on day four of our trip.
Sign up to receive email notifications and find out when I make a post! “The Temples of Angkor: Part IV: Detour” is coming soon! The detour includes a silk farm tour, and concludes with a sunset at Pre Rup.
Thanks for taking the time to check out this blog!