Travel Notes from Beng Mealea, Cambodia

7:11:00 PM Jerik De Guzman 0 Comments


Koh Ker was supposedly where i will go. I cannot be too honest with Bun Nak when he's been endorsing me this temple since day one. He said that if didn't want too many tourists in a temple, i have to go to Preah Vihear province, close to the border with Thailand. I didn't go even if there was a Unesco World Heritage sight waiting for me to explore. 

Amidst what Bun Nak is saying that land mines are cleared, i just read that it's not fully cleared at all. But, the government, together with a foreign outfit, are doing their best to clear the temples and even the surrounding areas with land mines. 

It appears that Koh Ker is an Angkor Wat in the making; more vibrant, more atmospheric and less commercialized. Malaria is super prevalent in the area near Thailand, that everyone is advised to take anti-malaria pills at all cost. And because i didn't expect my adventurous side to overcome my fear, i was literally on the road on a motorbike every single day, looking for places left untouched by tourists. Which means, i was always nearby the red zone. :(

And thirdly, it's 120 kilometers away from Siem Reap. The road is fine at some point but it gets rough toward the jungle, and i am not kidding, with potholes from every corner of the half-built road. So, there. 

Bun Nak was supposed to pick m up at 5AM so we can leave early for Koh Ker. With not much sleep, i went downstairs and told him that my plans have changed. Of course, he was a bit disappointed having to wake up at quarter to five in the morning for a lazy and disorganized backpacker named Jerik. But i explaind to him that i have all the afternoon to roam around, and do absolutely non-touristy stuff except for Bang Malea. 

At half past 11 in the morning, this fellow Bun Nak who has now turned from a driver/guide to my good friend turned up at the hostel excited to take me around so i can explore some more. The heat was unbearable, and i haven't eaten anything so anything with rice and soda would probably help me out become more energetic for the long day ahead of me. We stopped by a fancy restaurant where i had a so so chicken fried rice. Of course, it was getting warmer at about 33 degrees Celsius. 

As we were racing for Bun Nak's best time from Siem Reap to Beng Maalea at 65 kilometers, i reckoned this is probably the longest motorbike trip of my life. The road was good mostly, on the way to Phnom Penh, but the extreme heat was making the trip awful. At about 1 hour and 1 minute, we arrived at the ticket counter where had to pay $5 to get inside this popular temple in Siem Reap. 

Beng Mealea is probably the most beautiful temple of all temples in Siem Reap. That is after visiting all the Angkor Wat temples the last time i was there. And now, Beng Mealea is absolutely one of a kind. Like what everyone says, it's worth your 5 dollars to be there. I wished i could have shown him more my enthusiasm but i was already dripping in sweat, and it doesn't help knowing i still have again almost a hundred kilometers of road race, back to my hotel. 

After about an hour of pure excitement, it was time for us to depart. But where to? I told Bun Nak if we could actually roam around some more villages so i could have a deeper understanding of the people's way of lives. 

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