The Apsara National Authority (ANA), a body tasked with managing the Angkor Archaelogical Park, has been repairing the rotting wooden floor at Ta Prohm temple to facilitate access for visitors after the Covid-19 pandemic eases.
The repairs, a task last attempted 10 years ago, are scheduled for completion soon.
ANA spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on August 18 that there are so many areas in need of repair for tourists’ safety as this temple attracted 5,000 people a day pre-Covid-19.
“ANA is currently repairing many areas in Ta Prohm temple, such as sidewalks and popular places where tourists like to take photos. The problem is that the floor has been eaten by termites and over 10 years it has become severely decayed. Even though the floor is made from koki wood, it has been weakened by the insects, moisture and heat,” he said.
He added that repairing the temple is difficult as trees have grown on the structure and roots have penetrated the stone work and ground. Visitors walking through the temple hardened the ground and damaged the roots which affect the trees. So, ANA must protect the trees as part of the temple as they strengthen and hold the structure together.
“To solve this problem, we have made a path for tourists that avoids impacting the trees. It is also for the tourists’ safety,” he said.
According to Kosal, now is an opportunity for ANA to work on the temple’s floor, increase the attractiveness of the natural environment, improve roads and repair other places in the Angkor park in preparation for the return of tourists.
Kosal said the temple was built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII and dedicated to his mother, who is represented by a statue in the form of “wisdom”. The temple, originally named Rajavihara, or Reach Vihear, was considered a large Buddhist monastery at that time.
Khmer Angkor Tour Guide Association president Phang Borey lauded the repairs to the temple. The decaying floor, he said, will be replaced and no longer a danger to tourists.
He added that the wooden floor would also prevent visitors from stepping on sculptures and tree roots. If a lot of people step on them, the roots will die, thereby affecting the temple structure.
“I support the arrangement of this new wooden floor so that it does not stain the feet of guests when it rains. But I do not agree with putting a handrail that is too high, which makes it unattractive when guests want to take a picture. Because the roots cannot be seen,” he said.