Sunday, 6 October 2013
Every so often you visit a place that blows you away.
It fills your mind with joy and wonderment and you cannot stop staring, exploring and soaking up the atmosphere.
One such place is the temple of Ta Prohm in Cambodia.
Cambodia is awash with beautiful temples from a bygone era. They litter the countryside in different states of ruin.
The more charming ones are those that were lost and re-discovered after years of abuse from Mother Nature.
Nature clawing her way back and re-taking the land she once occupied with dense forest.
Temple surrounded by large trees that have roots thicker than a man's torso wrestling through stone work distorting the buildings and the very foundations that they sit on.
There is something truly magnificent about seeing the slow power of nature that has inch by inch moved giants of stone and rock and created a ruin that has such a strong character that it almost blows you away.
Ta Prohm is a short cycle ride or tuk tuk from the more famous Angkor Wat. A younger generation will know this temple from the Lara Croft Tomb raider films of the early 2000s.
A lot of jungle and temple scenes were filmed here in the heat and humidity of Cambodia.
I arrived in a tuk tuk from Siem Reap. Siem Reap is a brilliant city and gateway to the Angkor Archaeological park where you can visit numerous temples and send weeks upon weeks there and still not see it all.
I stepped off the tuk tuk and instantly thought I was gong to regret my visit here.
There were hundreds of Japanese tourists all over the place. All had masks on and many wore white gloves and matching baseball caps.
They all followed someone with a large pole with a red flag on it.
They were like a swarm of insects with cameras. They would descend on an area and click away before disappearing off to another area.
Then they all suddenly vanished.
They only came to see the famous part of a tree where the roots and the tree itself had grown through the entire wall.
They clicked away behind the security rope and then disappeared off to another temple.
Thus they left me all alone staring at this fantastic jungle ruin.
I almost had the place to myself; when I wandered round a corner I definitely did have it all to my lonesome.
I was in my element.
Because at the far reaches of this temple there are no rope barriers and the place is one massive climbing frame of exploration.
It was probably wrong of me to clamber over tumbled stones and giant roots penetrating the ground and making once straight walls look rippled. But I could not resist as I leaped from large boulder to boulder.
I stepped up on to ledges and peered through windows into the gloom.
Roots, branches and moss covered stones bigger then my house and Ii was in my element.
To me this was bliss. Here I was thousands of miles from home in a land where people smile and the sun beat down. Not only that but I was inside a world heritage monument and one I just did not want to leave.
I had t touch and feel the rocks, stones and roots. I needed to feel it tangibly with my fingers and feel part of the place.
This has been here for a long time, and will out live me. I was but a millisecond of its history but I wanted to saver it. Ta Prohm may see thousands of people a year and she may never remember me but I will never forget her and I wanted as much of her as I could greedily swallow up.
Ta Prohm was largely built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and was originally called Rajavihara. She became a world heritage site as listed by UNESCO in 1992.
I looked at the stone and wondered how on Earth they built this back all those years a. The labour, power and effort must have been out of this world.
The jungle may be claiming her back but it is carefully managed and kept looking as it is for tourists who flock here and make it almost as visited as Angkor Wat.
My time was coming to an end here. I clambered round one last time taking in all I could muster. At one point I held a rock that had fallen from a wall.
In the palm of my hand sat a piece of history and a piece of a monument that will fill my dreams for years to come.
I placed the rock down and walked off. Before jumping back into a tuk tuk I turned to gaze at her once more.
The sun was setting and the jungle gloom surrounding the temple.
One day I will see you again I thought as I put putted away, the tuk tuk belching out black smoke and ruining the tranquility!