Day 3 of our Siem Reap adventure took us to some of the less-restored gems of Angkor, including Ta Prohmーthe 800-year-old co-star of Angelina Jolie in the first Tomb Raider movie. Many of the buildings have been reclaimed by the jungle, the sprawling roots of Spung trees tearing apart the temple brick by brick.
On the highway to Beng Melea, we passed several roadside vendors selling krolan. The popular Khmer snack contains sticky rice mixed with coconut, palm sugar and soybeans. It’s stuffed into a piece of bamboo stalk, sealed off with banana leaves and roasted over a hot charcoal fire. When cooked, the burnt outside of the bamboo is shaved off and it’s ready to eat. Just pull out the banana leaves and peel the bamboo like a banana!
The ruins of Beng Mealea were our favorite of the day. Largely unrestored, the temple has been both held together and taken apart by invasive parasitic trees that weave their roots through the vertical spaces between the stones. While some bricks are pushed apart by the expanding roots, others are wrapped tightly within like twine around a bundle of newspaper.
The gorgeous red sandstone Banteay Srei temple was built in the 10th century at a much smaller scale than most of its contemporaries.
Banteay Srei translates to “Citadel of Beauty” or “Citadel of the Women,” a name inspired by the intricate carvings in the sandstone. Although small, Banteay Srei was one of the most decorated temples we saw all day.
Our guide Chanra climbs a makeshift ladder attached to a palm tree to show how the locals harvest the coconuts.
Many homes in the Cambodia countryside are built on high stilts to keep them above water during the country’s long rainy season. Agriculture, specifically rice production, makes up 90 percent of Cambodia’s GDP and the flooding is a crucial part of the growing process.
The kids of Ta Prohm employees have the world’s most awesome playground!
The massive Spung trees enveloping the temples at Ta Prohm have been left intact despite major renovation efforts lead by India since 2013.
Tourists climb the steep steps at Pre Rup, largely intact thanks to some advanced construction techniques. The temple was built in the early 10th century during the reign of King Rajendravarman as a funerary for local people. The burning pit and a basin for washing the ashes can still be found on the grounds.
The amazing sunset from the top of Pre Rup.
More Photo of the Day posts from our December 2015-January 2016 trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia