Ta Prohm

As soon as we checked in at the Golden Banana, we headed for the temples. No time to waste.

We started with Ta Prohm, the Buddhist temple you might remember (or not) from the first Tomb Raider movie, most famous for its crumbling jungle-takes-all ruins. Built from 1186, the temple originally required 80,000 people for its care and upkeep (according to an inscription at the site), and for whatever reason succumbed to the jungle faster than the other temples over the centuries. It’s currently in a state of awesome disrepair. Huge strangler fig trees, with their massive limb-like branches, weave in and around the stones like snakes and threaten to take the whole structure down. When we arrived around 4:30 p.m., there were only a dozen or so people there, walking through the shadowy courtyards and corridors in silence.

From there we walked south to Banteay Kdei, a former Buddhist monastery from the late 12th century, where we saw more beautiful ruins and even fewer people.

It was like discovering something hidden in the jungle.

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