The last temple...
Trip Start Feb 19, 2011
79Trip End Jun 10, 2011
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Beng Mealea is a jungle temple around an hours drive from Siem Reap. It's a place where Indiana Jones would not be out of place scrambling over the piles of stone and swinging from tree roots and vines.
This temple was built by the same king as Angkor Wat and it has a very similar layout and features. We asked why having built Angkor Wat would you build again on such a scale elsewhere. "To show off" our guide explained! Anything you can do, I can do better!
Beng Mealea is still waiting to be classified by UNESCO as a world heritage site like Angkor. Until then the trees will be kept at bay with minimal trimming but there'll be no major restoration or study of the site. The blocks of stone will lie where they've fallen like discarded pieces of a giant jigsaw.
On the drive back we stopped at the Cambodian equivalent of the little chef. We had brought a yummy picnic and were shown to a thatched hut on stilts above a river. We took off our shoes on entering and sat down to eat crosslegged.
This afternoon we've been relaxing and reflecting on the grandeur of the Khmer empire ten centuries ago. England was in the early middle ages - yet to enter an age of exploration or enlightenment.
Off to the Cambodian capital tomorrow!