We arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia like countless others, eagerly awaiting our chance to explore the largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat. The sunrise was special, and structure awe-inspiring, but it was when we decided to visit Beng Mealea, where Cambodia captured our imaginations and immersed us in its mystery.
Beng Mealea is a 900 year old unpreserved temple complex, deep in the jungle, devoured by the passage of time. The winding route used to be impassable, but a new road connects visitors from Siem Reap in just a couple hours, passing through small villages along the way. In true Indiana Jones style the temple itself was once engulfed by the jungle, but the foliage has been cut back in recent years revealing the massive complex.
The temple is completely open to explore the many courtyards, ancient libraries, and collapsed chambers within. The groundskeepers were almost too helpful as they guided us to walls to climb over and narrow passages to navigate. It was moments getting lost among the maze of carved stone and rampant foliage we began to imagine the society and culture that could build such a wondrous place. It’s an adventure worth taking, seeing a small part of Cambodia lost to the relentlessness of time and nature.