The Apocalypse Has Come And Gone: Angkor’s Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm B&W

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.

Happy Trails,
James & Terri

Ta Prohm 2


We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

42 thoughts

    1. 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

    1. 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

    1. 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

  1. 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

    1. 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

  2. Grippingly eery!
    Angkor Wat is amazing… I’d love to visit one day.. The black and white indeed brings out the mystery in this place!

    1. 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

  3. 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!

    1. 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

    1. 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.

    1. 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

    1. 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

    1. 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

  4. 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

    1. 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

      1. 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.

    1. 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

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