Cambodia – Fact Check

Angkor's picturesque jungle temple

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Cambodia – Fact Check Angkor's picturesque jungle temple

Ta Prohm, one of the most visited complexes in Cambodia’s Angkor region and a UNESCO World Heritage site, was one of the chief locations for the filming of Tomb Raider. It is not hard to see why.

Willem Dercksen
Willem Dercksen Journalist

Beautiful stone-hewn Buddha faces adorn the temple’s entrance gates, but they do little to mask the violence that plagued the area during the terrible reign of the Khmer Rouge: the paths are now dotted with landmine victims playing traditional Cambodian instruments.

The temple itself, originally a Buddhist monastery, has been largely reclaimed by the surrounding jungle, many of its walls and galleries strangled by the roots of ancient trees. For those seeking peace and quiet, the best time to visit is late afternoon when most tourists start heading back to Angkor to soak up the beautiful light of the fading day.

At the eastern entrance to Ta Prohm stands a 150-year-old fiscus pilosa, the most photographed tree in all of Cambodia. Most mornings, the area erupts into utter chaos as tourists scramble to get a picture with the colossal roots. It is an interesting anthropological phenomenon to see the Japanese, Chinese and Koreans pose routinely with expressionless faces, where most Western visitors prefer to wait until the stage is cleared to get a photo of just the tree.

Ta Prohm also boasts one of the most famous faces in Cambodia: the 80-something Neam, who has been immortalized, broom in hand, on the cover of a guide book. All vendors are refused entry and have to jostle for a spot in the roped-off area outside the temple grounds, Neam, who conducted restoration work for the French until the 1960s, is the only exception. He is considered a part of Ta Prohm.

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