Tomb Raider (2001)

To me, this movie was always “that famous one about the hot female character from some video game I’ve never played because (a) I’m not a guy and (b) I prefer games where I get to make colored shapes disappear.” Even after I went to Cambodia and poked around in the tree-covered fallen temple famous for having been in the movie, I didn’t really much care whether I ever saw Tomb Raider or not.

Now that I’ve seen it, I understand what all the fuss was about: this movie launched Angelina Jolie’s career. The character is awesome, and the stunts are awesome, and Angelina Jolie is awesome for playing the character and doing the stunts.

Nevertheless, the whole thing felt like an expensive, lame joke. I think I enjoyed Prince of Persia more. The movie I was most reminded of was the lopsided 2017 China/India project Kung Fu Yoga, in which Jackie Chan unleashes his inner Indiana Jones.

I live in Southeast Asia and have been to Cambodia multiple times because Angkor Wat is the awesomest UNESCO heritage site in the region. See below for more of my thoughts on the movie’s setting.

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Phnom Penh (September 2016)

My husband Aquinas and I went to Phnom Penh, Cambodia during his break week.

While there, I drank a Kingdom Pilsener. The label says:

Cambodia’s lush, mysterious jungles hide more than the splendours of Angkorian majesty. Deep in these green bastions rare beasts roam wild. The elusive clouded leopard, the strange plated pangolin, the stalwart kouprey—if not mythical, at least immensely difficult to find. Kingdom Pilsener, Cambodia’s first truly premium beer, celebrates this enigmatic empire. Singular in flavor and a little hard to track down, Kingdom’s rare quality is well worth the adventure.

On this trip to Cambodia, we forwent the Angkorian splendours. We did not see any clouded leopards, plated pangolins, or koupreys, stalwart or otherwise. I don’t even know what a kouprey is! (Google says it’s a forest-dwelling bovine—you’re welcome.)

We visited the royal palace, the national museum, a Buddhist temple, and the Art Deco market; we patronized a spa and a couple of handicraft shops; we relaxed in the hotel cafe and ate at two of the best restaurants in the country (one French and one Cambodian). That’s it!

Below are 25 photos, mostly from the palace grounds.

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