Tomb Raiding the Tree-strangled Temple – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #4

November 28, 2008 at 6:46 pm | Posted in itchy backside | 16 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,

If you have watched Angelina Jolie’s 2001 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, you would definitely remember the many scenes shot at the various temples at Angkor Wat. The most memorable one for me (and I think many others) must be the one with the many many gigantic trees around. It was only later when we were going to Cambodia that I knew it was called Ta Prohm.

To reach the temple, we had to walk a short distance into the forest, which made it seemed more secluded and undisturbed from the noisy road outside. The moment I saw it, I liked it instantly!

The entry point to Ta Prohm…looked so quite and cool in the forest…
The air felt fresher here too

Just when we were admiring around we felt raindrops falling…and the rain came very quickly! We took cover immediately but found ourselves still getting wet as the ancient temple had holes every here and there on the roof….:p It was a different feeling looking at the temple in the rain, with the brollies and raincoats adding some bright colours to it. Unfortunately it was very dark to take any photographs inside and the rain was too heavy to take pictures outside without getting the cameras wet. In the end, we found one big stone dry enough to sit down and wait for the rain to stop. Incidentally, from where we were seated, we could see a big tree outside through the door. When the rain got smaller, some tourists started to explore around and posed in front of the big tree. Then when they passed by our door, for some unknown reasons, many looked shocked when they saw two living persons sitting inside….haha…I had fun looking at their expressions while Tisu Boy tried to wipe dry his newly bought Angkor Wat book. It was getting late and we decided to start early the next day.

But suay leh, the next day the moment we reached Ta Prohm, it started to rain again! 😦 But good thing was the rain made it cooler and also lesser tourists around…hahah…

Covered with algae…

Looking out from the many windows…the details still well preserved…

So intricate…

Soon we began to see big tree around the temple structure…

A fig tree. Many structures were damaged and collapsed probably due to age…

Then with a turn around the corner, we saw this HUGE tree with gigantic roots ‘drooping’ down from the roof of the temple structure and continued to spread across the ground….:O

The huge Silk Cotton Tree. How did the building withstand the weight of the tree?

By now the rain had stopped and more tourists had ’emerged’ from their hiding corners. The big root became a hotspot for pictures!

Tourists queuing up to take pictures. We had to wait at least five minutes
for our turn…

More excitment followed as we found more big trees….

Another big and tall Silk Cotton Tree engulfing the whole building…

See how tiny and insignificant Tisu Girl was? We should really give
more respect to the work of Mother Nature!

Built in the late 12th to 13th century, the temple had been left in its ‘natural state’ as when it was rediscovered in the 19th century. With passing time and the help of its dispersal agents, mainly birds, the seeds grew gradually into tall trees as its roots intertwine the temple. I supposed in the process of the growth, it might have contributed to the collapse of certain parts of the temple, but ironically at the same time, it acted as a support for the weakened structure too. Hence, the two had form an inseparable union whereby if the trees were to be removed or died naturally, the whole structure would collapse too…

Holding onto the building with its strong roots…

The two Itchyfingers turning into Hercules and Zena…! Now you know
what was Tisu Boy doing on the masthead liao?

And another one! Great photo spot!

Restoration work in progress…the roots look like the body of a huge serpent…

On our first night we met two ang mohs at the road side stall during dinner (it didn’t give us tummy ache!) and they had been singing praises to Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm and kept telling us to explore the ‘secret spots’ that many people might have missed. So we took our time exploring every nooks and corners that we could find….

Another headless buddha

Luckily some escaped the hands of tomb raiders and were left almost intact…

Keep an eye for the small details around pillars and door frame!


Many parts needed reinforcement to prevent further collapse…

I think these used to be the library…visitors were advised not to attempt
climbing up cos it might cause further damage…

The marks left behind…

When we were shooting around this area, we could see fruits dropping from the tall trees and the sound was loud! Need to wear helmet here to prevent head injury…hahah!

Fruits littered the ground…

The smell from the overripe fruits weren’t too nice though..

So they were from this tall tree call Irvingia malayana. The common
names are wild mango, African mango or bush mango

Beautiful door


What were these people doing in the canvas shade?

I see. They were the ‘legalised national tomb raiders’! Archaeologists
doing excavation for study…:p

These broken pieces were numbered so that they could be put back
in the exact order later

I couldn’t remember exactly which trees were the ones shown in Tomb Raider though we were at Ta Prohm till our tummies reminded us it was lunch time. But we love Ta Prohm so much that we eventually went back for the third time on our second last day after our tethered balloon ride to see Angkor Wat. It was already the weekend and both Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm were swamped with human locusts! I think many must be in those three days over-the-weekend short tour trip. Luckily we came on weekdays so we could get most of our pictures without people around. I was still having tummy ache every now and then after the balloon ride, but went ahead to take a last look at Ta Prohm, hopefully to find more ‘secret spots’.

Sweeping at this quiet corner

We din manage to find anything else and my tummy was starting to play up against me again. I tried to bear with the pain and we decided to call it a day in another 15 minutes’ time. And we were so glad we din leave then cos somehow I think we took a different turn in one of the building and immediately I saw a familiar sight! The huge strangling fig tree! The same one in Tomb Raider! The one where Angelina Jolie picked a jasmine flower before falling through the soil…

I was so excited! But so were the at least or nearly hundred of tourists surrounding the tree! I heard tour guides and tourists saying that was the tree shown in Tomb Raider. 😀 Wow! Finally found it! So glad we stayed for 15minutes! My tummy ache was gone…:D

The fig tree had its roots intertwining the building…there were actually
many tourists around waiting for their chance to take picture…this was
one of those seconds where one finished and another was about to go
up to pose for pictures

Tisu Girl imagining herself in Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider suit taking
photo with the magnificient strangler fig…

Itchyfingers strongly recommends (more than) a visit to Ta Prohm, easily one of the most beautiful temples in Angkor despite its partly collapsed ruin state. You will definitely marvel at the wonderful work of both man and nature!

Also see related posts:
Steps, Steps and More Steps! – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #3
> Walls of Art – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #2
Up, Up and Away! – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #1



RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. Wow.. very nice pictures.. and great awesome journey.. I hope someday, I would do that.. Congratulation.. Good works..

  2. Thanks! Cambodia is very accessible. I’m sure you can visit anytime if you want to! 😀

  3. Dear Friend.

    Why do you hide your face but not the face of the local girl sweeping? Just a thought.

  4. To answer my own question: It’s part of the theme of this blog — I know (hee, hee). I just tried to be philosophical about photography of foreign lands and people. These are great pictures, by the way. I had a hard time choosing which scenes to take because there were so many! Your post reminded me of my trip. Thanks!

  5. Hi Kamiye,

    Itchyfingers have always been mindful about posting pictures of local people, but sometimes they are part of the life there and what’s life without the local people? :p As for covering up our faces, yes, if you read the “About” section and our first post “Hello”, you will understand the whole idea behind Itchyfingers and the two tissue-covered boy and girl are our little mascots. We aim to bring the good and interesting things in life to our readers without showcasing ourselves too much…what we wanna share with readers is our experiences, and that should be the main aim of Itchyfingers. 😀 Thanks for visiting Itchyfingers, we hope you will enjoy reading our little posts and do feedback to us other thoughts you may have! 😀

  6. I liked the pictures very much . I am an artist and i paint with oils on canvas . i feel like painting some of the photographs for my show , but i dont know if i can copy them.


    • Hi Geetha,

      Thank you. Glad you like them. An artistic interpretation of the place will be interesting.

  7. Really great photos! It can be difficult getting pictures of Ta Prohm, but did it nicely.

  8. i am visiting Cambodia in the summer, and i was wondering how difficult is is to navigate around Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, only going for a day or two whilst travelling to Thailand, can you recommend anything else worth doing? is everything pretty obviously directed, or am i just going to get very lost wandering into the jungle? Thanksss!

    • Hi Amelia,

      We hired the tuk-tuk for the whole day so it was pretty easy to go ard the temples. Some people cycle around. I think basically if you are only going for a day visit to the temple, it should be pretty straight forward, just choose the temples you are interested or ask for recommendation from the driver or fellow travellers. There would be so many tourists around I am sure you wouldn’t be lost, just follow the common path. Some temples require you to walk a short distance to get there and chances of wandering into the jungle should be very low if you just follow the path..hahah…Guidebooks advise not to stray into unbeaten path in case the area is still not cleared of mines but I think area around Angkor is pretty safe now with so many visitors walking around. Have a great trip!

  9. For apsara with teeth, there is not only one^^ here u can go to this link if u to c apsara with teeth that i just collected 😀 I used to c one of them (the pretty one), n m going to find other n take a picture by myself next time i go there :>

  10. Thank you for the description & lovely pics. Am planning to visit end this year. Did you visit any other parts of Cambodia besides angkor wat?

    • Hi Angie,

      Welcome to Itchyfingers. Ya, most of the time we spent in Siem Reap was at the many temples, as we love them so much. We also visited the fishing village and took the balloon up the air to see the aerial view of Angkor. Do check out–-siem-reap-cambodia-trip-9/ . I think depending on the number of days and interest, there are other places you can visit. We talked to some backpackers who visited some war museum, which sounds worth a visit too.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: