I have never seen the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
It is most likely due to the fact that I positively sucked at the game Tomb Raider on Playstation (I was too busy dominating Crash Bandicoot). It could also be that I am not a dude. Plus the movie came out when I was 13 when I was probably more into Harry Potter than Angelina Jolie in tight pants.
In any case, I had no concept of Tomb Raider when I entered Ta Prohm, one of the most famous temples in Siem Reap.
Without any previous knowledge of what Ta Prohm looked like, I was immediately impressed by this incredible temple. No wonder this was selected as a movie backdrop. This place is seriously cool! I thought Banteay Kdei was “one with the forest” but Ta Prohm takes the cake. The forest has basically grown on top of the temple. I am not kidding. Gigantic trees sit on top of the temple like it’s no big deal. Tree roots are so thick that they create their own layers of walls over the original stone. Surprisingly, most of the stone structures are intact despite the tremendous pressure of these enormous trees. It is excessive and absolutely incredible.
However some of the walls had fallen, creating an eerie atmosphere of collapse and dilapidation. I believe this was the goal of the conservationists, to keep the temple the same way they had found it. The result is pretty awesome… except when inconvenience is caused. It is regretted! Oh how I love non-sensical English translations (like Chinglish).
Now before we embarked on our day-long temple tour of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Banteay Kdei, we knew we would be headed to the Tomb Raider Temple last. Carina came prepared and dressed in her best Lara Croft outfit. She had been prepped and ready to kick some serious statue butt all day. She did well fighting some inanimate stone blocks with sheer force of will and a few karate chops. Apparently all it takes to fight evil is to look like a badass. I was lucky to have a personal Lara Croft Tomb Raider with me just in case any statues came to life. Thankfully they did not!
Don’t you wish you had your own personal Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider temple? You can never be too prepared.
At this point in the day we were so sweaty, exhausted and just ready to get back to the hotel. We certainly did not spend a whole lot of time at Ta Prohm and honestly it looked a whole lot like the other temples we had already seen. Instead of looking at every single archway and bas-relief, we wandered around the grounds and took it all in. I enjoyed the total vibe of the temple as a place forever lost in the forest. I guess that is the charm for most tourists as we search for authenticity while surrounded by hundreds of people crowding around just like us. When we see awesome nature that makes us feel small and insignificant, we begin to forget that our experience is not unique. And that is ok.
Like every other tourist, I appreciated the decision to keep Ta Prohm exactly as it had been found. For in my own experience, this is what made it stand out. It also forced me to look up which tricked my mind into briefly forgetting that we were surrounded by scores of other tourists all taking the same picture. I have found that to be a basic and unavoidable reality of traveling in Asia. Asian tourists! Ahhh!
Despite the crowds, I really enjoyed Ta Prohm. It was visually pleasing and I loved the juxtaposition of the trees with the temple. Because really, who wouldn’t?
FINALLY, our day-long temple tour was over and we could return to the hotel at last. I needed to lie down, scrub layers of dirt off my skin, take off my ripped harem pants and sleep for 10 hours. We had accomplished a full-day of sightseeing at the famous temples at Siem Reap and we were exhausted! With two more days to go, what else could we possibly do?
Find out soon!