Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ta Prohm


Of the many amazing temples I saw in Siem Reap, Ta Prohm is definitely my favorite. It seems on the verge of collapse under the weight of the roots of towering trees. The scent of decay is pronounced and more so after a tropical downpour. While seeking refuge inside one of the temple structures, we were enveloped by an oppressive and dank air which no amount of incense could erode. But this is to be expected of an enclosed space that is being choked by its surroundings.


There's so much drama in this jungle which is why I like it the most. Piles of stones are everywhere. Moss and lichen cover the walls and roots the size of an elephant wrap over and around the structures. Built in 1186 as a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII (the greatest ruler/builder of the Khmer empire), it was abandoned until the 16th century when Portuguese explorers visited the Angkor complex.  


The jungle has been tamed but there are many traces of its past existence. In these grounds there's an uneasy symbiotic relationship between man's oeuvre and the force of nature. Uprooting one will surely bring down the other.

Little boy selling raincoats at Ta Prohm

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Images by Charie. Images may not be used without the expressed permission of the photographer.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

I got up at 4:30 a.m. to meet my tuk-tuk driver, Vanna, at 5:00 a.m. to make the trek to Angkor Wat for the famous sunrise over the temple.  The air was nice and cool and I could have used a light sweater but what a welcone change from daytime temperatures! At the ticket checkpoint a few miles from  Angkor Wat, the attendants there asked for my temple pass which had expired the day before. But since I had no intention of going inside the temple (as it is under renovation and the front terrace is covered in  tarpaulin), my driver negotiated for me to enter the grounds but not the temple. This worked out perfectly and at 5:30 a.m., I was well positioned to view the sunrise.

First blush

From where I stood, I had a great view of the causeway and the first wall which has three round towers. Behind that are the three conical towers of  Angkor Wat. There were many people around who woke up early to see this momentous event. On the causeway leading to the temple was a steady procession of tourists who wanted to catch a glimpse of the sunrise.

A few minutes later

The reflection of the temple on the man made lake surrounding it added to the ethereal beauty of this unique place. All was calm when everyone from the bus tours had entered the temple. It was really a beautiful time of day as I waited for the sun to soar higher in the horizon, but not too fast. I wanted to savor the magic.

The sun rises

As the sun rose slowly and gently, the colors of the sky changed from purple to blue to soft blue and the lake became a mirror of gradients of light and cloud formations. Until finally the sun dazzled us all.


And the tourists marched back to their tour buses to return to their hotels.


While others were about to embark on their early morning cycling tour.


"Life is a great sunrise." Vladimir Nabokov

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Images  by Charie