Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cambodia Diaries: The Jungle Temple of Beng Maelea

Our itinerary changed when we arrived in Siem Reap. Instead of visiting the Angkor Wat Temple first, we decided to head some 40 kilometers east of the Angkor Wat Archeological Complex to see the rubble and ruins of the Beng Maelea Temple. 

It is about 77 kilometers away from Siem Reap. We were a bit prissy so we got ourselves an air conditioned van that offers a free guide and free-flowing bottled cold water and soda. It cost us USD 80 for an 8-hour day trip. Note: If you want to save and you don't mind the heat and dust, a tuk-tuk can be had for only USD 13 or less depending on your negotiation skills. 

Along the way, you'll appreciate the peace and quiet of the countryside. You'll see also that traditional houses in Cambodia are made of stilts as they have a history of constant flooding. 

These ruins were a result of the looting done during the civil war. People thought that there are treasures buried beneath the temple. It is a Buddhist belief that structures such as temples are going to be lucky if precious stones and other gems are buried in the foundation. It is unclear whether those treasures were found by the looters.

Trees and some vegetation have actually grown inside the temple, especially in the courtyard area.

Bas-relief on sandstone

Tourists must buy a pass at the Beng Maelea Ticket Booth. Each pass costs USD 10.

I think it's a must to include it in your Siem Reap itinerary. If only to see the vastness of the ruin and make your imagination run wild. We were told that the courtyard held grand celebrations in its heydays on its huge courtyard. And that a large moat surrounded it. Today though, every square inch of the temple is dry and not a drop of water can be found from its surrounding area extending up to the jungle surrounding it.



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