Being Lara Croft

Trip Start Sep 23, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Saturday, January 26, 2008

Our second day of temple exploration was undampened by the heavy rainfall which started during breakfast. Our driver, Mr Bon, took us to Ta Prohm as the first stop. Tiar had advised us to get up and go before breakfast, and it soon became clear why. The place was relatively quiet when we arrived, but soon the Korean and Japanese tour groups descended like a plague of multi-coloured mushrooms under their umbrellas. The temple was beautiful, with fig tree roots growing over the walls, eating the building. It had that unexplored jungle temple feeling, except for the hordes of tourists. The hordes did encourage us to explore side passages and galleries, and we had some wonderful tranquil moments when we found photogenic spots which we had all to ourselves. Indiana Jones never had to put up with this.

Rick enjoyed Srah Srang, a pretty baray (pool) opposite the temple of Banteay Kdei. Kdei made a refreshing change after the madness of Ta Prohm, and we had a great time viewing the lively apsara carvings. Pre Rup was a picturesque temple mountain, with good views of the surrounding fields and jungle. East Mebon was another interesting temple mountain, decorated by statues of elephants.

Ta Som was one of my favourite temples. It was off the tourist trail and featured face towers in the style of the Bayon, and an enormous fig tree growing out of the roof of the eastern gate. Neak Pean was a temple island situated in the centre of a baray which has now dried up. Huge nagas coiled around the outside of the island, and in the centre was a sculpture of a horse, rearing up as it rescued drowning sailors from a watery grave.

Preah Khan was a large and spectacular temple- another which encouraged exploration. We watched locals casting nets into the moat outside, watched by the impassive eyes of carved garudas. We explored rooms containing Hindu linga statues and images of the Buddha. Raised levels gave wonderful views over the rest of the temples, and strangler figs were working on engulfing parts of the stonework. Tour groups were few, and tended to make a beeline straight through the temple; we lingered and had most of the temple to ourselves, as it became bathed in golden late afternoon sunlight.

After returning to the hotel to preen, we went to Raffles for cocktails in the Elephant bar. My Femme Fatale went down very well, and Rick quickly developed an addiction to the honey-coated pistachio nuts. Afterwards we returned to Dead Fish Tower- this time armed with a camera!
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