By David Hammett
Prior to travelling to Cambodia I had it in my head that the famous Angkor Wat temple would be the pinnacle of our sightseeing on tour.
Travelling as part of a group of Bunnik Tours staff we began our journey from Vietnam to Cambodia starting with the hustle and bustle of Saigon in southern Vietnam through the Mekong Delta and up into Cambodia’s Phnom Penh and finally, onto Siem Reap – home of Angkor Wat. As every day passed we edged closer and closer to our visit and the excitement grew among the group.
However, something very interesting happened once we got to Siem Reap– we visited Ta Prohm and it enchanted us in a way that was completely unexpected!
Ta Prohm is not as famous as Angkor Wat but in my eyes it was far more spectacular. It was originally built as a monastery and university by King Jayavarman VII in the 12th and 13th centuries. Standing in Ta Prohm is like being in a scene from the Indiana Jones movies and even more recently ‘Tomb Raider’ was filmed here starring Angelina Jolie.
At every turn you are stunned into silence by giant trees and jungle vines growing over the bare stone walls. Each corridor brings a new outlook and you will see and hear a flurry of cameras clicking. Even with the high numbers that visit Ta Prohm and the other Angkor temples each year, you do feel a great sense of serenity when visiting the complex. There were times when I was there where I would be the only person in the corridor or looking at a particular aspect of the temple and this was hugely refreshing as it is unusual in a site of great interest to be afforded such silence and tranquillity at times.
One thing I must warn you all about when travelling here – the heat and humidity are among some of the most extreme I have ever encountered. The day we visited saw the mercury soar north of 35 degrees with the humidity level above 90%. This basically meant you dehydrate very quickly so it’s really important to replenish your fluids by drinking lots of water.
You can visit Ta Prohm and the Angkor Wat complex on our small group tours to Cambodia. Click here for details.