A woman offers blessings and luck bracelets (and accepts donations), in an alcove amid the ruins of Ta Prohm. Burning joss sticks, her shaved head, and the various offerings that surrounded her made me think she probably wasn’t a Mormon.
It was easy to see why Ta Prohm was picked as a shooting location for the “Tomb Raider” movie.
Yes, that’s a Stegosaurus carved into a wall at Ta Prohm. Well, maybe. Creationists believe the carving is evidence that humans and dinosaurs once co-existed (which would lend some authority to their weird timeline of the universe), but experts are still unsure of the hows and whys of the carving’s origin — or whether it’s even a dinosaur. Here’s from an article on Smithsonianmag.com: “If you look at the carving quickly and at an angle, yes, it does superficially look like a Stegosaurus that a kindergartener made out of play-doh. As anyone who has spent time watching the clouds go by knows, though, an active imagination can turn something plain into something fantastic. If viewed directly, the carving hardly looks Stegosaurus-like at all. The head is large and appears to have large ears and a horn. The ‘plates’ along the back more closely resemble leaves, and the sculpture is a better match for a boar or rhinoceros against a leafy background.”
Yep, that’s me, just resting my arm on antiquity.
Though there were quite a few people wandering Ta Prohm, it was the least crowded of the complexes we visited, and it was easy enough to find some people-free vantage points. I lucked out and suddenly found myself being shown great photo spots by a helpful local — that is until I realized he was expecting a tip at the end of whatever path he was leading me on. He might also have been after my camera: at one point he encouraged me to climb a ways up the trunk of a large tree growing out of the stone and said he would take a picture of me from below. Unfortunately for him, I’d woken up pretty early that morning: I wasn’t going to play the idiot tourist for him. A few minutes and a couple of turns later I gave him $5 and we parted ways, much to his dismay. When I ran into Shay a couple of minutes later, she reported a similar experience. It was a minor thrill to know that we’d both successfully encountered and escaped from what is no doubt a classic Angkorian tourist scam.
The Angkor Wat temple complex is vast, its scale from another era. Its stone is worn and stained, dulled by time, yet some of its carvings remain impressively intact — albeit due in part to ongoing restoration efforts. As the early morning haze lifted, we wandered the complex in a daze — antiquity has a way of not leaving much to say.