Monday, 12 May 2008


Two days before my trip, my eldest daughter was admitted to hospital for her appendicitis operation. I was worried then about her operation and the thought of cancelling my Siem Reap, Cambodia's trip. Luckily, the operation was minor and she was discharged the day before my trip and doing well now.

Now that I am back, I don't know where to start to blog. Every temple is different, every visit new to me, each with a fantastic story and rich history behind and the fascination never stopped. Imagine looking, touching and breathing a piece of architecture that was built 800 - 1000 years ago. My three days was packed with exitement and non stop adventure, thanks to my wonderful guide, Miss Soluy. There are more than 1000 Wats/temples in Cambodia and more than 200 in Siem Reap alone. Apart from Angkor and Bayon, Ta Phrom is one of my favourite. The picture above shows one of the many trees that had overtaken Ta Phrom temple and this is also where Angeline Jolie shot her 2001 movie, Tomb Raider. You can see me (in hat) and my friend TS looking so tiny among the roots.

DATE: Late 12th to 13th centuries
REIGN: KING JAYAVARMAN VII, in honour of his mother

The trees have grown interwined among the ruins are especially responsible for Ta Prohm's atmosphere. Two type of trees conquer the entire temple, the larger silk-cotton tree distinguised by its thick pale brown roots, an the smaller, strangler fig. In both cases, the plant takes hold in a crevice somewhere near the building where birds have deposited the seeds. In fact, it's the trees that supporting the stuctures. It was home to 12,500 people, 18 high priests and 600 dancers.
(Information source: from Ancient Angkor book by Michael Freeman and Claude Jacques)

Entrance to Ta Prohm

This was the temple chosen to be left in it's natural state, as an example how most of Angkor looked on its discovery in the 19th century. Here is my friend, TS.

Our guide, Soluy. Look for her when you are in Siem Reap, her knowledge and care is second to none.

Ta Phrom's original name was Rajavihara, 'the royal monastery'. In the initial plan for Ta Prohm, 260 divinities were installed and many more added later.

A strangler fig tree, well known for its great mass of thinner and smoother grey roots. This tree was nicknamed as the 'Angelina Jolie' tree.

Me :)

Me and TS. What looked like a big snake is the root of a silk-cotton tree, distinguised by its thick, pale brown roots with knobbly textures.

Limestone carving featuring Apsara dancers. I'll do one post dedicated to them later. Apsara are known 'angel dancers' by the locals. Their main function was to dance and entertain the Kings, all topless in their era. It surely was good to be King then.

As I am typing now, I know I am going to be sick soon. Cambodia and Malaysia share the same weather, extremely hot and humid. Tons of sunblock and a hat helped a little, but really I've never been under the sun for so long in a day. My life under the hot sun here has always been hopping from my room at home to my car, to office, out for lunch or dinner, shopping centres etc..all airconditioned. I don't even spend more than 10 minutes under the sun here, so when I was in Siem Reap, I was practically fried, not to mention the constant climbing the VERY steep and high stairs into the temples, each one measuring approximately 4 inches in width.

Till we blog again...and there's plenty to blog about for this trip :)