Mines and Trees of Beng Mealea

Walking into the Beng Mealea temple, we were confronted with this sign recounting the number of antipersonnel mines and unexploded ordnance cleared in the surrounding area, a grim reminder of the Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. The National Geographic writes

“In the warfare that raged in Cambodia from 1970 until 1998, all sides used land mines. There are more than 30 different types. Villagers have prosaic names for them based on their appearance: the frog, the drum, the betel leaf, the corncob. Most were manufactured in China, Russia, or Vietnam, a few in the United States.”

A 12th century Hindu temple located 40 km east of Siem Reap. Beng Melea has many trees growing through ruins of buildings, without the crowds of temples closer to Siem Reap.

This excellent five-headed naga greeted us on the walkway into Beng Melea. A second sat in a pile of random, sandstone blocks.

naga at Beng Melea
naga at Beng Melea
naga amid sandstone blocks
naga amid sandstone blocks

These houses rest on short, concrete stilts. Notice the greenish, earthenware pot to the right of the back house. Most houses have one to three of these pots outside. The vessels have the same design and glazing; perhaps they hold drinking water.

houses on concrete stilts
houses on concrete stilts

Beng Mealea has many trees growing on top of galleries, and we were able to climb to the roof and see how the tree roots have encased the stones. To keep the foreground tree roots and the distant walls and trees all in focus, I decreased the aperture to f/18 and compensated by increasing the ISO and lengthening the exposure to get a good exposure.

trees growing on galleries
trees growing on galleries (click to enlarge)
strangler fig on roof
strangler fig on roof

Beng Mealea is notable for the many trees on rooftops, ruins, the lack of crowds, and the minefield reminder.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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