Words by Daryl Jones. Pictures by Jonathan Dallimore.
Me and my mates toats discovered an actual real dinosaur, carved into an ancient temple, in the deep dark cambodian jungle. The epic-jungly-temple-bits of ‘Tomb Raider’ were filmed there. Looks like they should have shot ‘Jurassic Park’ here instead…
The people are super nice, the food is amazing (including the delicious fried insects and spiders) and the land itself is simply spectacular.
The ruins of the ancient Khmer empire, hidden away in the wild monkey-filled jungle surrounding Siem Reap have to be seen to be believed. Even more than at Machu Pitchu, Stone Henge or the Pyramids, when you wander these 12th century ruins you feel like you’re actually exploring. You feel like one of the Portuguese adventurers that rediscovered the ancient temples back in the 16th century. The whole place has retained its air of ancient mystery. Carvings depicting jungle creatures and war elephants, acrobats and warriors, adorn every surface in minute detail. 40m high fig trees grow atop the walls of the crumbled civilisation. Cambodian children flit through the undergrowth like enigmatic jungle pixies, popping up again and again to try sell you important things like small carved wooded penises.
I followed some orange clad monks off into the jungle beside a secret hidden waterfall, just to see what secret monk rituals they were up to. Turns out they were taking a dump.
But that’s how mysteriously awesome and awesomely mysterious this place is; it makes you follow people who are hiking into the undergrowth to take a shit; the place feels that magical.
Ta Prohm was completed 1186. It has been left mostly in its dilapidated state, and you’re free to wander through and explore it for yourself, so we did.
At the corner formed by the fancy front entrance and the front wall we found a ten-foot column covered with decorative circles. Inside of each circle is a picture of animals that any decent explorer would expect to find in the deep Cambodian jungle. Except for one.
In one circle, just chilling, acting like it ain’t no thang, is a Stegosaurus. Clear as day.
Stegosauruseses lived 150 million years ago. This was carved 828 years ago.