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Are These Ruins Ruined, Nah, They’re Totally Rooted

Posted by TravellingStrom on February 1, 2013

Sanity prevails, Photobucket has changed something so I can use non scrambled pictures. That was what that other garbage on my image names were, they added some extra privacy by scrambling the image names. I saw many many complaints when I accessed the PB help forum 🙂 But, the sad news is they say they are going to force me to use the new system in a few weeks, well, I have told them I am unhappy and I will move as soon as they do so, I am a paying customer, so I have rights and I can vote with my feet(or fingers in this case).

Back to the real life 🙂 I had heard of an out of the way temple location that was less visited by tourists and was more down to earth, that is un-repaired and covered in vegetation 🙂 So, I decided to go and look for Lara. The info I had been given mentioned being able to climb all over the place and so I decided to ride out, with all the gear, that way I would be better protected. Mind you getting out of the city at 0830am was an issue in itself! The Cambodians have mirrors, and just like the Russian drivers they don’t use them, so they will ride/drive where they want without any care for what is happening around them. I have seen many many crashes here, especially the scooters being bowled over, because of the lack of road rules and driving skills 😦 I had some good footage but the camera played up and it is pretty much unusable 😦

The temple site of Beng Mealea was only 65km away to the north east and after some careful study I managed to plot a route that should get me there, or close enough anyway.

Once out of the city traffic it was a more relaxed ride east, then north, after the turn the road became more twisty, still on flat ground though, but the speed still had to be reduced, in case of dogs, kids and other things on the road around the blind corners. I never knew there was a cost to enter the site(doh, but of course, you pay for everything here), but I stopped where a few buses had parked because it looked like, and turned out to be, a ticket office. It was situated 1.3km from the site and entry for one adult to this site is $5, you can also buy tickets to another site about another 50km up the road. Once I reached the parking area, I could see the ‘less touristy’ claim has changed since those reports I read were written, but no worries, lets see what there is to see 🙂

Beng Mealea Ticket Office N13.46965 E104.21792

Beng Mealea Parking N13.47165 E104.22940

Just after you cross the causeway, there is the UXO record for this site, another reminder of the war.

From here there is about a 400m walk to the actual temple. There is another long causeway after the mostly missing exterior walls, with Naga heads in good condition, but the section near the main temple entrance has collapsed.

This site is very similar to Angkor Wat in layout, with a central chamber and 5 sections outside, with the moat being the out most bit outside the walls. As there were a large amount of Japanese tour groups near this entrance section, with loud guides each, I went for a lap around the external walls. It was quite warm, even with the shady trees, some inside, some outside and some on top 🙂 I still had my bike gear on, boots and pants as I expected to be crashing through jungle, but that turns out not to be the case. I guess during the summer and wet season, the greenery would be in full growth mode, maybe a return is in order 😉 The trees are only growing on the walls and rubble because they came later, they did not cause this destruction, that was just natural age and attrition. None of the walls used any mortar, so I guess during the wet, the walls and structures would sink in and fall over.

Once I turned the corner I could see this tree had established itself on the roof of the corner room and as the blocks were indeed easy to climb, up I went 🙂

I checked out the root system and they were tough, solid as stone, but as I tapped higher up into the thicker ones, they had a slight hollow sound. There was no way of shifting them! You can see here how the main wall has tumbled down making it an easy climb.

In a way I felt slightly uncomfortable climbing over the ruin, even though I had read it is OK. But then a lady guide came over and started to show me how and where to climb up, even though I had just come down 🙂 I was well prepared today and mentioned the fact I only had enough dosh for water and food, so she was welcome to guide me but I cannot pay anything. Worked a treat, she nicked off real quick 😆 I did a full lap of the outside with everything looking dire, it would take some effort to restore this. But I overheard at one stage an English guide telling his group they intend to leave it as is, so the tourists can see it as it was found. Although it is obvious, in some sections, efforts had been made to brace or make safe certain parts 🙂 During this time I saw many guides clambering over and up and down the ruins, so I felt a lot better, although how I could damage 1 tonne blocks is beyond me 🙂

Some of the remaining entrance ways were still usable but you have to be careful of falling down through the cracks and some of them were not too stable either. At some stage along here I clomb over the wall and entered the first courtyard area, and could see the inside had also been destroyed by time.

Check out the root system on this tree, amazing!!!

I had a bit of a rest inside this shady area, I was sweltering, while there a tour guide came past and told me to go up there and he would grab a photo, very kind of him 🙂

It was about now that I regretted buying the camera I have now, it does not have a timer so I cannot take photos of me in it, which is lucky for you I guess 🙂 edit, I just did a search on the net about this and found it does have a timer. No wonder I could not find it though, it is called drive mode, not timer, like I would work that out!!! It’s all good, I know where it is now and can use it in future, suffer 🙂 I wandered around some more, on top as well as on the ground, as I went over the top I could see walkways had been built inside. From where I was though I could not get to them without a deep jump, so guess I will enter there from somewhere else.

This next one is the most central part, total rubble!

Looking under and through one of the entrance causeways.

Inside the central walled area where the board walk is, there were many many trees here living on top of things 🙂

The whole inside was like this, brilliant, the trees are not like the buttress type banyans like at Ta Phrom or the Ta Som sites, these are a lot smaller in size but just as tough!

And that was it, a couple of hours of fun, but now I needed to cool down a lot, I was hot!! On the way out I took this photo of a babble of tour guides, the one in front was the one I rejected 🙂

I tried to buy some mango from the local vendors at the parking spot but they only had green ones, yuck. But, after a nice cold drink instead, and after soaking myself in water, I donned the gear and headed back. On the way I passed these pigs going to market, crazy system, I wonder if that is the wolf driving the threesome 🙂

And then a bit further up the road a scary sight until I saw the ropes!!!

A broken truck and more pigs, it must be market day 🙂

Then as I got back into town I spotted this scooter with a home made fuel tank on a trailer, the photo is a bit blurred, because I had to take it real quick when traffic swerved my way, but you get the drift 🙂

So, all in all a great day, I never had to use a machete to get into the temple, nor did I see any oversize snakes, but then again, I never saw Lara either 😦 Not to worry, I had a cold shower, a nice feed for lunch and a relaxing afternoon, you can’t get better than that 🙂

Cheers from Siem Reap

2 Responses to “Are These Ruins Ruined, Nah, They’re Totally Rooted”

  1. Ron2wheels said

    Well done Richard.
    Wow, what an incredible civilisation Angkor and the Khmer had … until it all went wrong.

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