Our time in Cambodia was winding down and we had 1 last day of the 3 day ticket to the Angkor Wat site. After spending the morning at the floating village we decided to try to capture the sunset at Angkor Wat and see one last temple for the remaining part of the day. Our driver wanted to take us to the Lady Temple, but it was a bit far out. I read about Preha Kahn and decided that would be our last temple visit.
Preha Kahn is similar in design to Ta Prohm since it was built by the same ruler. One of the temples was built for his father, the other his mother. This temple had been used as a monastery and residence for the King over time. This temple promised fewer people, but the same enchanting trees and vines over walls. Unfortunately not all temples have been saved –yet. Preha Kahn lay mostly in ruin to a larger extent than the other temples we had seen. It was still something I wished to see and get more shots of the atmosphere that intrigued me. Seeing the temples almost brought me back in time as my eyes tried to soak it all in. The feeling of peace and freedom to explore the ruins where little was off limits was unlike any other travel experience where velvet ropes and guards hush you and hold you back.
Since our return I have read about tourists climbing to roof tops and exclaiming they are re-acting scenes from movies and video games which, is a little shocking. I guess some people take more liberties and blur the world of fantasy and reality more than most. As more tourists come so does the wear and tear on these ancient sites. Preservation is starting to become more important now than ever. Restoration is expensive and pain staking, so I assume that fewer liberties will be allowed and more restrictions will be the norm in the near future.
Strolling up from the main road we followed a long sandy path where a child was drawing designs and pictures in the dirt as a tourist tried to question him and get him to pose with his works. More rubble lay about and statues were headless as well as some ancient gods had been chiseled out of the bas reliefs. These temples had been Hindu and Buddhist over time and when one took over the former gods had been erased in some instances. What struck us more was the crumbling walls toppled by giant trees and roots. Some of the trees had been partially chopped down, but the roots still head fast in ancient foundations. Each turn seemed to show us another tree, a larger one with a firm grasp trying hard to erase an ancient civilization.
There is a delicate balance being played out between nature and man. Tourists come to see the lost cities smothered in trees with its mystique and atmosphere and nature fights to reclaim its land. On one side nature needs to be controlled so it doesn’t completely destroy the site, but without this unique phenomenon will the tourists keep coming?
Light was fading fast, so we needed to cut our visit short, so we could race to Angkor Wat to try to view sunset. With time against us we went in the same gate we viewed sunrise and needed to race across the grounds to the opposite side if we wanted the temple silhouetted against the colourful sky. Crowds were exiting as the day was nearly done. With the sun to our back we paused to look around and see if the sky was starting to light up in brilliant colours only to realise a large cloud bank stretched across the horizon. As luck would have it we would also miss sunset. With disappointment I stopped to look around one last time and soak it all in. Part of travel is sometimes missed opportunities, but many more great adventures will outweigh the things left undone. Leaving a great destination with more to see and do is all the more reason to return.
This is the fifth in a series of posts about our December trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia. If you would like to see more be sure to check out:
Stay tuned… with Chinese New Year holiday upon us we are heading to the Philippines for a few days of rest and relaxation. I apologise now if it takes me a little longer than usual to respond to comments.