The Lost Temples of Cambodia-Beng Malea & Phnom Bok

Phnom Bok Temple, siem reap cambodia
Phnom Bok Temple
If you’ve been following along for awhile, you know that Jeremy and I love to experience out of the ordinary destinations while on vacation. Whether it’s swimming with whale sharks, road tripping across the country, or zip lining through the jungle, one of our favorite parts of traveling is finding places or activities not commonly stumbled upon.
That’s why we knew that once we saw all of the temples at Angkor, we also wanted to travel outside of the city to the Lost Temples of Cambodia. These temples give a true Indiana Jones feel as most of it has ben left in ruins, the forest taking back claim to what was once theirs.
 
The first temple we visited was about an hour ride outside the city of Siem Reap called Beng Malea. It was a massive complex that was almost completely destroyed and overgrown with moss and trees. You had to crawl under and climb over the rubble at certain points to make it back to the clear path that was made just for tourists such as ourselves. 
Beng Malea Temple, siem reap cambodia
Beng Malea Temple, siem reap cambodia
Along the way, we inherited a tour guide. Three to be exact, even though two were too shy to say anything. We didn’t really ask for one per say, he just immediately attached to our side once he saw us. Now, I realize that it’s somewhat of a scam but I figured what’s the harm to have a cute kid show us around for an hour or so? Even though all he did was point at all the statues and repeat the words ‘flower’ and ‘apsara dancer’. He tried.
Beng Malea Temple, siem reap cambodia
My favorite part of the temples were the trees shooting out of the stone and the intricate detailed carvings that littered every inch of the temples.
Lost Temples, siem reap cambodia
Beng Malea Temple, siem reap cambodia

The second temple, Phnom Bok, was just a short thirty minute ride outside of the city and was even more desolate than the first. We were the only tourists there exploring the grounds of the temple that sat at the top of a large hill. These are the stairs that we had to climb to get to the top…in about 90% humidity. Go early in the morning if you want to not faint on your way up!Phnom Bok Temple, siem reap cambodia

Even though this temple was the smallest that we saw, it was one of my favorites. How cool are the trees shooting up out of the rocks? I may be a little obsessed with the tree, rock combo. Just wait till you see our pictures from Ta Prohm.
Phnom Bok Temple, siem reap cambodia

Cross Country on Two Wheels-Roadtrip Across Cambodia

On the last few trips it’s become a sort of unintentional tradition to rent a motorbike and take a road trip (you can check out our one in the Philippines and Thailand). So it was a no brainer to do the same and make a roadtrip across Cambodia. We love it because not only it is a cheaper method of transportation versus taxis or tuk tuks since it’s less than $10 a day for a rental, but I feel like we are also able to see parts of the country that would have whizzed by the bus window.

Road Trip Across Cambodia
 In total we rode over 900 km (that’s 560 miles for you USers), or the width of Cambodia and almost back again and I have the bruises on my butt to prove it. We went through cities and back country roads where the farmers were steering their ox through the rice paddies. We drove through the blazing heat, dusty roads and pouring down rain. We met farmers, school children, business owners and our guardian angel; a stranger who drove slowly in front of us with their hazards on so we could see the road through the downpour of rain. But no matter where we traveled, we were always met with smiling faces and inquisitive looks. Even though it was a long ride, I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

Here are some little tid bits from our 13+ hours on the open road:

Our first pit stop was to get gas at a small family owned service station. The girls in the top picture were selling mango and salt (an interesting combination for sure) while the boys helped their father with the station. The man sitting below had worked for ten years at a hotel in Phnom Penh in order to buy this gas station. And you’ll notice that on the gas pump they have a handle they have to crank in order to get the gas from the barrel, up into the glass container, then through the house and into the vehicle.
Gas Station Cambodia
Some of the other gorgeous views along the way.
Cambodian Countryside
Cambodian Rice Fields
This is another one of our many pit stops where we found children swimming through lily pads and collecting lotus pods to sell and eat.
Cambodian Children

Motor Bike Cambodia

We often had ‘road blocks’. Luckily this was only one cow but there were times when we had to sit and wait for a group of them to get up and move out of the way before we could keep going.

cambodian cow

On one of our last stops we went by an area where all of the houses and buildings were up on stilts. Certain areas can actually flood so much during rainy season that the water actually reaches the bottom of these buildings.

House on Stilts in Cambodia

Along the same route we found a hammock restaurant on stilts and decided to take a break and enjoy the view. Plus, who can say no to hammocks and a cold drink?
Hammock Restaurant in Cambodia

I just couldn’t resist putting some pictures of cows in Cambodia because they may just be my new favorite animal.
Cambodian Cow
cambodian cow

On our way back from Siem Reap to Phnom Pehn, we left at 4:30 in the morning (definitely not my idea) in order to beat some of the city traffic and also the scorching heat that sets in late morning. Thankfully the views made it well worth it.

Sunset in Cambodia
bike ride across cambodia

Even though the trip was a blast and I would recommend it to anyone traveling to Southeast Asia, there are some things that made it a whole lot easier on us, and some things that we wish we would have known:

-It goes without saying that you need a lot of cushion. On the way back I was tempted to go try and find those butt inserts to make the ride a little better. Instead we folded some of our clothes in bags and sat on those instead.
-Cover up! Even though it may not feel hot when you’re riding and you can feel the wind, you’re getting a lot more sun that you think you are.
-Have a water proof option. We rode during the rainy season and thankfully only got caught in the rain once. We covered all of our bags in trash bags to protect them from getting wet.
-Get an international license. We’ve never been asked to show ours in the countries that we have rented but it doesn’t hurt to have this extra precaution.
-We bought kramas (traditional Cambodian scarves) before we hit the road. A lot of the roads we went on weren’t paved so there was a lot of dirt and dust that we would have been breathing in if we didn’t have these scarves. Anytime we stopped, we got funny looks because of how dirty our faces were in the areas the scarf didn’t cover.