In the 2001 film titled Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Angelina Jolie caught my attention with all those crazy flips and stunts. Even more stunning were the temples that were captured in the movie.
Early one morning in Siem Reap, we rented $1 bicycles and rode our way to Angkor Park. For once, the weather forecast was correct: hot and sunny, low 100’s. Large tour buses and tuk tuks transporting tourists through the park passed right by us. We knew right away we should visit the smaller, less popular temples and then work our way to the popular sites to avoid the large crowds.
Boris and I are definitely not temple fanatics. We have seen a lot of temples so far because there are so many in Southeast Asia. However, we were very impressed with the temples here in Angkor Park. They were well preserved and just magnificent.
As we continued riding buried in our own sweat, there was something surreal about being in the park. There were lots of trees and space around us. The path we chose was quiet and empty. Sometimes we were alone at the small temples and had time to think and take it all in.
However, not everything lasts forever. As we made our way to the more popular temples, large crowds surrounded us.
Our favorite was Ta Prohm temple. It looked small from the front but there was an enormous tree soaring out of the middle. As we entered the temple, the roots of the giant tree were well above our heads. Everywhere we turned, there was another exceptional tall tree. When we finally arrived at the famous scene of Lara Croft, I knew instantly. The site confirmed the movie was real and our next job was to find Angelina Jolie.
We didn’t end up finding Angelina but our next favorite temple happened to be in the same film. Bayon temple is distinct with its 54 towers, each bearing 4 faces. After a while, you forgot where you were inside the temple since all the faces were identical.
There were many other temples we enjoyed. Overall, you had to be in awe at the sight of these large detailed works of art, which were dated back to the 12th century. How did they ever build these structures?