After our long and scenic ride to Bang Melea, the heat had been turned up a bit. We sort of lamented our late push off time. Landa had warned us that we should have left earlier. He was right. The temple has been consumed by nature and forever altered by gravity. Without Unesco status and zero upkeep, the place is absolutely wild and a little mad. You are free to climb about its piles of rubble or meander down its collapsed hallways. If you have grand notions to play Indiana Jones, then this is the place to live out the fantasy. I even got lost in a long ago abandoned wing and had to climb up the rubble to survey the perimeter for Kristin. It felt pretty exciting to be alone with history. The crowds are nonexistent this far from Siem Reap and the throngs of Angkor Wat worshipers. The temple is huge, about the same size as Angkor Wat with a very similar layout.
We were escorted through the ruins by Chia and Sal, two enterprising youths that sort of forced their way into being our tour guides. We normally wave off these advances, but the place was so beat up and confusing, we had no idea where to go. They navigated for us, and we gave them some cash. Before we committed to acknowledging them as guides, we made sure they went to school in the morning. It went a long way to alleviate our guilt associated with incentivizing kids to skip school to hustle tourists.
After baking in the temple for an hour, we stopped by a stall for some refreshment. Lo and behold, we stumbled upon some ice cold beers. The name of the beer? Texas Beer. It is strange how ubiquitous the "Texas" brand is while traveling. We also saw a Texas BBQ in Ho Chi Minh and a Texas Chicken in Manado. I do not notice this phenomenon with any other states.
We arrived back in Siem Reap at 3 in the afternoon. We were starving, so we ate at a really great restaurant called 8th Street Bar and Brasserie. Kristin had crumbled chicken stuffed with pesto and herbed cheese. I had chicken with herbed gravy with bok choy and black sesame noodles. I love when things are "herbed." I must confess though, I have no idea what it means.
During lunch, while Busta Rhymes played over the speakers at our Khmer/French/Unknown restaurant, a man in the street jumped through a flaming hoop of knives.
In the evening we had a relaxing time with massages, ice cream, and shopping at the Angkor Night Market. I do not know why, but the Angkor Night Market is much much better than any other night market in southeast Asia. We finally ran into Meagan and Ryan, and they regaled us with tales of their day, which included eating bugs and firing fully automatic weapons.
Leaving Siem Reap
Stone Mason Shop
Our tuk tuk driver Landa piloting our adventure
Man and Beast
This is a wedding facility
Kids out of school at 11
Some country homes
Foe some reason, we see volleyball nets everywhere. Cambodians love volleyball
The old moat surrounding Bang Melea
You see these signs pretty frequently. Lots of landmines here
The path to Bang Melea
A shaded pond
Bang Melea - a mess of fallen empire
An inner courtyard
Kristin had sandals on, so I moved on without her, clambering over these stones with my camera and tripod
A collapsed hallway
The jungle has slowly taken this place back
Reminds me of those After Man shows
Hey boo what you doing up there? A movie was filmed here in 2004, and they built a few wooden walkways that remain
Self Timer O yea
At this point we were lost
A nice action scene
Some very old windows
They were such gentlemen
A natural swing
An old entrance
The Southern Entry
This kid came at me wielding a plant
This cow had a death wish
More country homes
Many of the houses are on stilts, probably due to flooding during the monsoons
Around the bend
Our commute back to Siem Reap
We liked this house. This would be a nice home in Cambodia.
I just want you to get a feel for the different types of homes here
The vast majority look like this
Hello there lady, what kind of snack do you have there?
A kid on a big bike
A colorful monk back in Siem Reap
A man jumping through a flaming hoop of knives
Chicken with sesame noodles
Crusted chicken stuffed with cheese and pesto
Some colorful nurses
A Tuk Tuk