21 August 2012

TA PROHM AT TONLE BATI

After completing our day trip to Phnom Chisor we had a late lunch at Tonle Bati lake, which is something I would not recommend to do again. The food was horrible and the prices sky high. A total tourist trap in my opinion. As a vegetarian I had no real option but rice with vegetables, which took almost an hour to arrive. The lake and the setting is very scenic though. There are huts on the lake where visitors can eat, drink and relax. We might have picked the wrong hut and/or the wrong vendor who prepared the food, but we did make our point when we paid that we felt we were overcharged. 

Unfortunately it is a stop for most travelers, Khmer or tourist, since it is on the way to the temples and sights in the area. 

Ta Prohm is right next to it and there is an entrance fee for the whole recreation area to be paid. 

Ta Prohm is the name of the temple and should not be confused with the large temple of the same name just east of Angkor Thom in Siem Reap. 

The temple is a late 12th or early 13th Century A.D. site which I really liked for it's compact size and for it's number of lintels and other stone carvings. There are also a number of Buddha carvings in this temple. 

What I did not like from the very first moment we left the car, was the number of kids who try to sell you something. The kids were very bad behaved and my guide and I could not have a quiet moment to discuss the architecture and importance of the monument. We actually had to walk away from the temple to have our "15 minutes" of discussing the temple. The kids did not leave though. They stayed right with us and were amused hearing one or the other term in Khmer language which they knew. 

Upon entering the laterite enclosure the entire army of kids walked with us and once inside the temple structures, their parents and grand parents took over. We were basically hassled through the entire temple and from tower to tower. No a single quiet moment. Even my tour guide was hassled to make me donate money, buy joss sticks, flowers and other items. Older people were even coming out from the sanctuaries to drag us inside. It seemed like the entire village has become vendors or "priests" who conduct a short prayer for money. A very un-pleasant experience indeed, which is not fair to the beauty of the temple, the lintels, pediments and the structures. 

On the other side of the temple was a small shrine where another older woman foretold the future to a bunch of young girls who were praying for their own good luck. A bundle of money bills was an obvious sign of the real intention here. 

To the side of the temple and within walking distance is a modern monastery which has another ancient Khmer sanctuary in front of it, which also contains beautiful lintels. In the sanctuary are several old and new Buddha statues. 

So, Ta Prohm at Tonle Bati is an interesting site, where we would have spent more time to enjoy the temple but we hurried through it just to get away from the annoying local people.