Wednesday, December 21, 2011

If it's broke, don't fix it

'Dilapidated' has always been one of my favourite words (I'm a writer; I have those), as well as my all-time favourite state of deterioration. It's why I prefer the dingy Nostromo from Alien to the sanitised Discovery from 2001, the run-down Red Dwarf from Red Dwarf to the sleek UFOs from UFO, the gritty Battlestar Galactica to the U.S.S. Enterprise. And probably some more varied examples that aren't sci-fi spaceships too.

I like walking around historical ruins, but I want them to look old. Not just lived-in - I want them beaten down hard and not given the chance to get back up. I was never interested in visiting the extravagantly maintained Edinburgh Castle when my bus used to drive past it every day, but I always jumped at the chance to spend a night in dangerously ramshackle castle ruins out in the Scottish wilderness (there's another one: 'ramshackle').

So as you can imagine, I was pretty enthusiastic to explore some Cambodian temples that really hadn't been very well looked after at all. If these jungle temples were children, their parents wouldn't let them stay up late to watch The X-Files and Cracker until they'd cleaned that bloody mess up. Contrary to appearances, some of these places have actually been pretty extensively restored - but that didn't include chopping down the trees, clearing the vegetation or evening out the exploded brickwork. They know decent dilapidation when they see it.

Ta Prohm

It was impossible to get a wide angle without including some people.

Rest assured there'll be plenty of awkward angles, liberal cropping and extreme patience to bring you views unspoilt by humanity here on in

Those are some of the things trees do given 400 years of neglect
(if you recognise the bastardised quote, you earn a biscuit)

Attack of the extremely slow-maturing trees

Though some of them do look a bit like alien octopus fiends reaching into crevices to extract the tasty humans

Naga guards the entrance. If I was a marauding 12th century Chinaman, that would definitely be enough to repel me

Nice door to nowhere. I feel like I'm in Knightmare

Central sanctuary

More masonry

You think?

Those Khmer people were real short-arses. Or maybe this was their tiger flap

Mouldy old temple, as all temples should be

Creepy temple interior

Can't get enough of the dilapidation. Good thing I'm not running out of temples yet

Banteay Kdei

Smaller and less impressive than Ta Prohm -
mainly because some selfish bastard's cleaned the place up

Though not too much, obviously

Second enclosure

To the tower

Buddha stuff. I forgot these places had a function

Inner enclosure

Crumbly something or other

Ta Som

This one doesn't look too shabby at all

Oh. Okay

I like doorways, deal with it

This one's been consumed by the excellently named strangler fig tree

So maybe I liked this doorway a lot

Main temple enclosure

Lake temple

Face it, the trees have won

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