Destinations Magazine

Cambodia Chronicles: The Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea

By Wanderingjoshua
Cambodia has been on my to visit list since I became enthralled with traveling. The picturesque Angkor Wat and its romantic reflection has been on my mind for quite some time now. Last year, I had the chance to book a direct flight to the Kingdom of Wonder through Cebupacific's promo fare.

Cambodia Chronicles: The Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea

Angkor Wat

I touched down at Siem Reap airport before 10PM. The time there was delayed by an hour Philippine time. I looked for the airport transfer provided by the hostel I booked, Siem Reap Holiday Garden. I booked a dorm room that cost $4.5 a night which had basic accommodations that were clean and the dorm room had its own bathroom. I like talking with fellow travelers from different parts of the world and listen to their stories about their trips. It was an uneventful first night, and I was stoked to go on a tour to Beng Mealea the next day.
The Romantic Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea
I booked a tour with Beyond Unique Escapes to go to Beng Mealea. I initially wanted to go their on my own but figured that it was too far (77 km from Siem Reap) and too expensive for a solo traveler to go there. The tour I booked cost me $32 with food transportation, a guide, and good company. There was another $5 fee for the entrance to Beng Mealea.

Cambodia Chronicles: The Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea

The making of sticky rice

The tour kick started with a side trip to a sticky rice maker/vendor. If you've had suman or any other rice cake in the Philippines, the sticky rice from Cambodia is nothing special. Unsurprisingly, they look like Filipinos (I was spoken to in Thai or Cambodian in a handful of instances), same scenery, and almost same kind of food and produce.
The guide gave us a historical background of why the sticky rice was put in bamboo instead of clay pots. The warriors of the Khmer kingdom fought long wars against foreign invaders. When they drew their weapons the clay would often break and spill the food or burn their backs, leaving the soldiers hungry after battles. The king then decided to change the clay pots into bamboo to make life easier for the warriors.

Cambodia Chronicles: The Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea

Banteay Srei II

Before Beng, we made a quick stop to Banteay Srei II. These ruins were left in disarray because of the pillaging during the wars. People were left hungry and with no work to get food so they decided to pillage the ruins and sell it for money or food to eat.

Cambodia Chronicles: The Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea

Entering Beng Mealea gave me a feeling of nostalgia and a hint of romanticism. The ruins reminded of how fast things can change for a powerful kingdom. The green moss on the rocks and tree roots piercing through the walls, stones, and galleries were simply surreal.

Cambodia Chronicles: The Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea is translated into "Lotus Pond". This temple was built for the Hindu gods but strangely had Buddhist undertones, and follows the architectural design of Angkor Wat. Beng Mealea was primarily made with sandstone.

Cambodia Chronicles: The Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea

Naga

The seven headed mythical creature is a huge part of Hindu lore and is scattered throughout the temple.

Cambodia Chronicles: The Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea

Hindu mythology was intricately carved into the stones and walls of Beng Mealea.

Cambodia Chronicles: The Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea

The guide was well versed and knew a lot about the structure and Hindu mythology.

Cambodia Chronicles: The Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea

Walking up and down fallen debris and broken walls was definitely a one of a kind experience. You can feel the excitement moving through your veins once you climb up.
 

Cambodia Chronicles: The Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea


Cambodia Chronicles: The Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea

Me doing my Indian Jones impression by climbing up the stones.
After a few hours, the droves of tourists started to arrive it didn't ruin my stay though because I got to see the ruins before it got too crowded. The best time to visit Beng Mealea is before 9AM, you can allot at least 3 hours to explore and get lost in Beng Mealea.
It was already after lunch and the tour ended. On the way back to Siem Reap I pimped Biri island to the German woman sitting next to me. Since she hadn't been to the Philippines I decided to show some of the pictures of Biri Island to her I was happy that she found it amazing. She even asked me if it was a national park of sorts, but sadly it was not. I try to make it a point to sell the Philippines to the foreigners I meet on my trips since there were a lot of them that go around Southeast Asia but don't pass through the Philippines.

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