Beng Mealea

6 Oct

Disclaimer: Yes, it’s taken me a while to finish the blog posts on Cambodia. What with school starting, brand new munchkins to train, and a few three-day weekends of beach time, I have been a slacker about the blog. I will try to be more punctual! Now, without further ado..

On our last day in Cambodia, we explored Beng Mealea, a temple somewhat on the outskirts of the Angkor temples. A friend recommended Beng Mealea to me, and it did not disappoint! By random coincidence, Nate and Jenni, some good friends of good friends, happened to be passing through Siem Reap as well, so we joined forces and made a day tour out of it. After a failed attempt to see the sunrise above Angkor Wat (too cloudy) we set out  into the countryside. Beng Mealea is a rambling bunch of ruins about an hour’s drive from Siem Reap. Unlike the official Angkor temples, Beng Mealea is not a UNESCO site. Consequently, no major restoration efforts have taken place, and the temple looks much as it did when the French first stumbled upon it. The sole concession to tourism has been the construction of a walkway around the ruins.

Beng Mealea was awesome for two reasons: first, due to its location and the early time of day, there was hardly anyone else present. We spent the majority of our time there completely alone in the ruins, and only towards the end of our visit did a tour bus of South Koreans appear. Second, there are no official guards or organization, so you can pretty much climb and clamber about at will. There are several men from the nearby village who hang out near the entrance and serve as unofficial tour guides. One of them attached himself to our group, and proceeded to lead us up, around, over, and through the ruins. He spoke just enough English to give us a few tidbits of knowledge, and point out the good photo ops (he earned a well-deserved tip). We had a delightful time climbing around, and trying not to fall on our behinds while crossing the moss-covered stones!

After Beng Mealea, our driver took us to a second temple on the outskirts, Banteay Srey. I don’t have much to report about it, although the temple was quite beautiful. It had an extraordinary level of detail in the carvings, which I think my pictures fail to capture. Also, there were random water buffalo wandering the premises, which highly amused. Although I’d previously had occasion to try water buffalo stew, this was my first encounter with a live one. For those carnivores who are curious, water buffalo do not taste good (too gamey).

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One Response to “Beng Mealea”

  1. Tonya Johnson October 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Beautiful photos. Yes, you, Tony and your blog has been missed. I enjoy keeping up with you both, your travels and your wonderful experience of living outside the US.

    TJ

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