Cambodia Day 3 – The road to Beng Mealea temple

30 Apr

This post is part of our adventures in Cambodia, for other posts on our trip, please click here.

After a quick lunch (at the least impressive restaurant of our trip and one of the more expensive), we headed to Beng Mealea temple.  It was way off the beaten path – normally represented with a small arrow to the right side of the map, indicating that it was not close by.  Our driver seemed to know his way though and we settled in for a drive and Li fell asleep.

Unfortunately – the road was under construction.

It was one of tensest car rides that I have taken.  The road was quite literally dug up with large piles of sand and rocks.  Large pieces of machinery appeared at random, punctuated by motorbikes and farm machinery.  The sand tracks were slippery and deep ridges threatened to stall the car.  To make things more complicated traffic was moving in both directions and the road for much of the way was one way.  It meant that we had to wait in small turn-offs and also were never sure when another vehicle would appear over a ridge.

There was one point where our driver started to drive along a newly plowed path, then wound up getting off the road, stuck in the dirt – turned around and the backing up for several football fields in length.  We finally maneuvered our way around after about two hours of nail biting (on my part, Li stayed asleep through most of it) and towards the end of the day arrived at Beng Mealea temple.  Nearby the temple grounds was the sign below.

This only started 10 years ago.

This only started 10 years ago.

Signs about restoration are all over Siem Reap – different governments have played an important part in restoring this part of the country.  In this instance it was the German government that started clearing the land mines, but they just started doing it in 2003, 10 years ago.  It is difficult to understand or appreciate.  Our driver told us that both of his parents had been killed in the conflict and I don’t think he was much older than I am.  The horrors that this land has seen are so recent that it is almost impossible to understand.  The long drive and this sign emphasized it even more.

Beng Mealea has not been fully restored and it was a different type of exploration – climbing over and under blocks and different pillars.  Below are some of the views as we arrived.

IMGP1611 IMGP1622 IMGP1624 IMGP1626

I wonder if Ta Prohm had been that way ten years ago.  Later that evening at our hotel we saw pictures of Khmer Rouge fighters taking an outing to explore the same grounds.  It was eerie to think we had been at the same place just a few hours before.

Beng Mealea was an amazing temple – one that called for photos and I’ll share more of them shortly.

How do you connect a history of a place with its monuments?  When does the history over shadow the place itself and what risk do we take if we forget?

An aside – I have been having a difficult time putting pen to paper (or rather hands to keyboard) recently.  It seems that there is so much to write about that I am getting stuck in the details.  Please stay patient with me as I work through it.

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10 Responses to “Cambodia Day 3 – The road to Beng Mealea temple”

  1. zjbell92 April 30, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    Sounds like an amazing trip!

    • gkm2011 April 30, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

      It really was a great trip. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. languagewanderer April 30, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    Photos are just amazing. I’d love to see these places.

    • gkm2011 April 30, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

      One of the great things about Cambodia is that it is still very affordable – so if you are in that neck of the woods, highly doable.

      • languagewanderer May 1, 2013 at 4:27 am #

        I’d love to go there, it looks just amazing:))

  3. Madhu April 30, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    Beautiful shots! I guess we should be grateful the Khmer Rouge spared these temples.
    You must have taken a different road, for the road we took was wide and well laid out! We stopped at a market enroute that was fabulous as well.

    • gkm2011 April 30, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

      Yes it seems like we took a wrong turn – or because we were coming from a different place it just turned out wrong. Would not recommend the road – but I do have a great story!

      • Madhu April 30, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

        You do 🙂

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. ‘Hate Kills’: Photos and Insights From Photographer Lynn Johnson | EyePush - April 30, 2013

    […] Cambodia Day 3 – The road to Beng Mealea temple […]

  2. Cambodia Day 3 – Sunset behind Bakon Temple | 中国 Jumble - May 9, 2013

    […] our epic car ride of the afternoon, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to go to the last set of temples that Li […]

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