Tony dropped us off at the gate, behind it was a path leading to the jungle and temple of Ta Prohm. We didn’t know what to expect so just in case decided not to wander around. You need to remember that in Cambodia the land mines are littered all over the country, especially in the rural areas. Casualties have reached more than 2,000 annually in the beginning of ’90s, but since then have significantly dropped. So do not go off the path. On our way to Ta Prohm we saw a band consisting of people hurt by explosions. Some of them didn’t have legs or arms. They played music on traditional instruments but I can’t honestly say I enjoyed the music.
As we were approaching the temple we saw a green swamp and some stones lying around. It made me think: “Are there crocodiles here?” In fact there is a whole industry of crocodile farms in Cambodia. In 2010 they bred 283K small crocodiles. You can visit one of those farms just in the outskirts of Siem Reap. I never really wanted to go, not a big fan of zoo’s, farms and so on.
Going further over a bridge we came across a young man drawing one of those popular pictures you can buy from the stalls in Angkor or night market in Siem Reap, defined colors and recognisable temples. It really is a nice souvenir and if you buy it straight from the artist you have a chance to get a better price.
I loved the temple with narrow corridors and open courtyards, with trees, roots and moss getting everywhere. Those trees were really magnificent, tall, thick and serving as a support for different types of creepers. At some point we came across chicken trying to eat a green chili pepper, now we know why the food is so spicy in Cambodia! ( a joke)
I can’t say I recognized the temple as being the scenery in Tomb Reider. Maybe this is because I have seen it long time ago.
Ta Prohm housed the deity Prajnaparamita, the ‘perfection of wisdom.’ It was consecrated in 1186. Like many Khmer kings, Jayavarman had it carved in the likeness of his mother. The Prajnaparamita statue was surrounded by 260 lesser divinities, housed in their own sanctuaries. Interestingly, the temple was also the headquarters of a vast hospital network created by the good king. From Ta Prohm, supplies filtered out to 102 hospitals located throughout the empire. The Khmer kings seem to have taken the Buddha’s call to mercy into their own hands.
When we finished sightseeing and came back to the point where we started Tony was nowhere to be seen. On the opposite side of the road we saw some tables and decided to sit down and drink something different than water while waiting. When we got to one of the tables we saw Tony in a hammock waving at us to sit down. “I won’t be a minute!” (well this is at least my interpretation of his gestures!). We sat down and observed children discussing post cards and something that seemed an important business arrangements. As you can imagine they were carrying baskets of these post cards for trade.