Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Siem Reap Part 3: Angelina Jolie Ran Amok

Ta Phrom Temple
There is a poetic cycle to this vulnerable ruin, with humanity first conquering nature to rapidly create, and nature once again conquering humanity to slowly destroy. 
(Lonely Planet: Cambodia)

12:30 a.m. - Angelina Jolie Was Here
To me, it is a MUST VISIT temple.  
Kalau anda pergi Angkor Wat tapi tak singgah Ta Phrom, sila terjun tingkap sekarang juga terima kasih.  

From our chartered van, we had to walk to the entrance of Ta Phrom, about few hundred metres away. Despite the scorching hot afternoon, the surrounding tall shady trees relaxed the heat. Ta Phrom is definitely the coolest temple to be visited in the afternoon. Along the way, we were greeted by some children selling t-shirts and musical instruments. Ignoring them was not easy, as my eyes caught a glimpse of desperation in their eyes. But I did not have enough money or extra food to share. 

From far, I could see the big muscular tall trees were swallowing the temple. The elephant's trunk sized roots were literally crawling like reptiles, while Ta Phrom just stood there, helplessly. According to Elf, Ta Phrom temple has been left in much the same condition in which it was found. And to me, it was a wise move. Destroying or removing the trees would definitely result in the destruction of the temple itself. Because it seems that the temple and the trees have already been united into one single inseparable entity. 

This Buddhist temple was originally dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII. I could not see that much bas-reliefs like Angkor Wat and Bayon temple. I was told that this temple was once dwelled by monks, officers and also artistic performers. 

And Angelina Jolie was here. The Tomb Raider. 

1:00 p.m. - Playground in Ta Phrom

Most parts of the temple were ruined when the nature ran amok. Some entrances were closed due to massive destruction by nature. And also due to the civil war. So I was told. 

I saw some Cambodian kids running around freely and joyfully. Unlike Angkor Wat and Bayon Temple, Ta Phrom is more like a playground to these kids. 
At a corner, of the temple, I saw a young man, sitting religiously on a rock. He was painting a picture of Angkor Wat. There were also some paintings of Angkor Wat and the nature behind him, leaning against the Ta Phrom walls. They were really beautiful. 

Some tourists approached him to see a clearer look of his painting. He showed some to them in hope that the tourists would buy at least one. None of them bought any, instead they were taking photos of him painting. Feeling offended, he was pissed. He shoved back his painting materials into his bags and sat there in silence, lowering his head, looking to the ground. The tourists, realising that they had offended him, slowly walked away. 

Once the tourists were out of his sight, he pulled out his canvas and started to paint again. 

At times, we really need to observe the rules of photography, especially when taking pictures of the local people. Use your common sense, please.

1:30 p.m. - Okay for You not for Me
We exited through another entrance. Once again, we were surrounded by the other kids, selling t-shirts and musical instruments made of wood. My mind can still replay the sight of a young boy attempted to promote his musical instruments by playing it. 

One of the girls approached Melissa. Melissa refused to buy any and said: It's ok.

The girl replied: It's ok for you. But not okay for me. I am hungry. 
And she walked away towards other tourists. 

I am stunned for a moment. 

While walking towards our van, we saw a band playing some classical musical instruments. As I was approaching, I realised that all the musicians were the victims of the land mines. Some without hands. Some without legs. In front of them, there was a sign board where it was written:

We are the victim of the land mines. Our kids need money for school, but we are incapable to work like others. So, we play music and hope you enjoy and donate some money for us.

I should have brought extra USD cash. Or some extra food to be shared. 

As the van was leaving, I saw frustrated looks on the faces of the kids.
And I almost died inside. 

Till then, adios.

Hairi Tahir

To be continued....

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