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.
We hit Phan Rang-Thap Cham ahead of the tourist influx, which turned out to be a good thing because apparently during high season the place is overrun with Russians, who are not, to put it politely, the friendliest of travelers. Fortunately for us, this meant we had an entire resort pretty much to ourselves (admittedly it was a bit run down, but pleasant and clean enough for the price point). Over the course of two days and two nights, we saw exactly one other car parked in the resort lot, and never saw its owners. This lack of activity left plenty of time for the pool cleaning guy and the security guard to spend some quality time together and act chummy in front of the camera.