So, I thought Angkor Wat was impressive? Beng Melea is officially one of the best places I have visited in the world. A two hour tuk tuk (motorcycle trailer taxi thing) ride away from Siam Reap, my base for exploring Angkor Wat, there is a temple that is rarely visited known as Beng Melea. It is still covered in jungle with trees growing all over and on top of the walls as well as on the insides of all of the buildings. After reading about the place, I knew I had to go and only hoped it could be half as impressive as my expectations. Upon arrival, I immediately knew that it had more than exceeded my expectations. With hardly anyone in sight, I approached the crumbling entrance gate and walls and found my way into the complex through a small ramp that had been built over a portion of the rubble to allow visitor to access the inside. Within the walls, I looked on at what seemed like the set of the most incredible Indiana Jones film that could ever be imagined. Crumbling temples amongst the bright green leaves of tropical foliage every where in sight. I can only imagine that it doesn't look much different today than when it was actually discovered a hundred or so years ago.
Setting out to explore the ruins was a childhood dream come true. At Angkor Wat, you were able to explore all of the grounds around the temples and most of the insides, but crawling on top of the temples was definitely not allowed. Here, the collapsed portions of walls became staircases leading you up as high as the rooftops of many of the temples providing views that could otherwise not be imagined. The feeling of isolation, as if you had just discovered the place yourself lurked around every corner. As I sat there enjoying the solitude of a portion of the temple and studied the roots of the trees that were slowly breaking apart even more of the ruins, I couldn't help but smile as I sat there watching nature recapture the land that man had once taken away. I pictured places like New York City, long after the human race has eliminated itself from the planet. The spire on the top of the Empire State building being replaced by the trunk of an enormous tree, with it's roots crawling down the sides slowly making their way towards solid ground.