We have to travel 5,250 miles southeast to reach the location for our next entry in the B&W Photo Challenge.
The day was sweltering and the midday sun had bleached the color from the jungle surrounding Ta Prohm. This 13th Century temple is part of the Angkor Wat Complex, near Siem Reap, Cambodia. Ta Prohm had been on our list for years and it was one of the primary motivations for our last RTW.
It’s a mysterious and magical place that’s been deliberately left in much the same condition it was found; overgrown with centuries-old kapok trees, strangler figs, and giant creepers. Roaming the ruins conjures up images of the first archaeologists to see the temple, and how amazed and elated they must have been.
For me the beauty in the photo is the almost liquid-look of the smooth textured and lightly colored vines, as well as the contrast between the sinuous creepers and the ornately carved stone. The apocalypse has come and gone, and as always, nature has won.
James & Terri
Ankor Wat is so cool. Great use of B&W. It looks like you were the first people to discover it. There is a nostalgic feel to it.
Jeff, our original inspiration for wanting to visit Angkor was a Nat Geo spread that we saw years ago. It was on our list for years, and on our last RTW we visited. What a fabulous place. The funny thing is that the Angkor Wat photos that inspired us were actually photos of Ta Prohm. ~James
Stunning image. Are you sure it had already been discovered? The shadows give it an almost menacing look. Wonderful images.
Thanks Laura. As a ruin, Ta Prohm is unique in the world; I know of no other place like it. There are Inca, Maya and Aztec ruins that are surrounded by jungle, but nothing where the trees and vines have actually invaded the stonework like Ta Prohm. It’s a marvelous sight. ~James
Fabulous place. Fabulous photos. Thank you.
Thanks Alison. The size and diversity of the ruins at Angkor Wat are incredible, and Ta Prohm was our favorite. ~James
Amazing photos. You captured the feeling of the place well.
Darlene, I’ve visited lots of archaeological sites around the world, but none has the feel of Ta Prohm. With centuries-old plants invading and slowly destroying the stonework, it has the feel of decay, destruction, and vitality at the same time. Truly unique. ~James
I’ve always found it fascinating to wander through ancient ruins, even after thousands have wandered through them before me. I can hardly imagine what it must have felt like to be the first to come on a ruin like this. –Curt
Curt, the explorers who first stumbled on Angkor must have had a similar feeling as Hiram Bingham did when he saw Machu Picchu. For many archaeological sites the ruins are the primary attraction. But for places like Angkor and Machu Picchu, the location plays an equal role in making it what it is. ~James
Agreed, but I would add cliff dwellings in the southwest, ruins on Greek Islands, etc. 🙂 –Curt
Angkor Wat is amazing… I’d love to visit one day.. The black and white indeed brings out the mystery in this place!
Thanks Lia – mystery is the perfect word. Ta Prohm could have been the backdrop for “The Jungle Book.” In fact, it may have been. It’s a very special place and is unique in the world. ~James
I wonder how much of These very old crumbling temples could stay in place without the support of the banyan.
A very interesting point Lulu, and one I hadn’t thought of. Who knew? Trees roots as mortar. ~James
That is one stubborn tree!
You’re right on that one Susan. This tree wanted to get a few more roots in the ground. Nature finds a way. ~James
Exactly as I said earlier, ruins look great in B&W! 😉
Cambodia is one of the few Sth-East Asian countries I’m still to get to (Sarah’s already been), but can’t wait to finally do so!
Chris, we only visited Siem Reap and Angkor, but obviously it was worth the stopover. The area has gotten to be a real tourist hotspot, so there are lots of services that make it easier to visit. As you can imagine, the crowds can be a nuisance, but it only takes a bit of planning. For instance, when we stopped at Ta Prohm, it was in the middle of the day. Con: it was hot and humid as hell. Pro: the tour groups were somewhere in the AC having lunch. ~James
Always a win when you can dodge the package tours! 😉
James it looks particularly like a horror movie in black and white! Your title is perfect for the images.
Sue, in addition to being spectacular, the ruins have a very unusual feel; an aura of a lost civilization . As I said to someone else, the temple and the surrounding jungle exudes decay, destruction, and vitality at the same time. A hard combination to imagine, but that’s Ta Prohm’s beauty.
I love this! The plants seem to melt around the temple like candle wax! Nicely done in B&W!
I love the candle wax analogy Martha. It’s perfect, and I wish I had thought of it. This is a fabulous place. ~James
I would love to visit Cambodia someday. This photo is exquisite!
Thanks NIcole. When you go to Cambodia, start with Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. As you can imagine, it can be crowded, but worth every minute. An truly unique place. ~James
I would love to see it James! Someday!
Wow, what an awesome place. I’ll have to add that to my ever growing list of places to visit.
It really is an awesome place Amy, and should be on everyone’s list. It’s unique in the world. ~James
This truly is on our bucket list. The place looks amazing with all that growth swallowing up the buildings. Thanks for posting these pictures to remind us what we need to be saving up for!!!
Thanks Rusha. Angkor isn’t the easiest place to visit, and can be crowded, but I promise that you won’t be disappointed. It’s magical and a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Save those pennies. ~James
Ankor Wat is very high on our list. Thanks for this post!
If you get to this part of the world LuAnn, don’t miss AW. It’s has a truly unique feel and is worth the effort. ~James
I agree Gabriela. These out of control trees and vines certainly gives one pause. ~James
The melding of the man made and natural structures are quite beautiful…and a reminder that we all eventually return to the earth!
Vanishing civilizations are always a good reminder for all of us. I’m sure that at its peak, the Khmer would never have dreamed that this could possibly happen. As you say, there’s a good lesson there. ~James
A beautiful pic. I can’t wait to return this Christmas. The first time I saw Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples there were no tourists so I think I will be in for a surprise. I imagine it is still amazing. Happy travels, Cheryl
Thanks for the comment (s) Cheryl, and for dropping by the blog. Angkor had been on our list for years, and we’re so glad that we finally visited. Like most travelers, I consider crowds a nuisance. But for a place like Angkor, this is very selfish of me. Every day the world is getting to be a smaller and smaller place, and crowds at Angkor are a good example. Everybody should be able to see Angkor at some point. One tip from our visit: We hired a tuk-tuk and driver who shuttled us from site to site. See the main sites early, and save the outliers for later in the day. ~James
Thanks James. Great advice. Yes, the world is more travelled now and there are fewer off the beaten paths than before Internet or so I believe. I was in Cambodia during the UN elections; hence it wasn’t too busy at the time. My mom and I had the place to ourselves so that was just one of those lucky moments that won’t happen again.
exceptional photos…looking forward to reading some of your other posts and looking at your photos.
Thanks for your comment Sue and for dropping by the blog. Ta Prohm is a magical place and it was on our bucket list for years. And obviously, it was all we expected and more. ~James