A 1400 square kilometer National park that according to Wikipedia now hosts a ghost town, a location that was used in the move City of Ghosts.
We did start our morning with a breakfast in Rikitikitavi in the center of Kampot. We asked them to prepare take-away sandwiches for our trip. We filled up that gas tank of our rented scooter and left.
As usual, we did not really plan our trip and we were counting on our trustworthy Google Maps on the iPhone. All we knew was there is the Bokor Hill Station and the Bokor Palace Hotel: abandoned buildings that you can find on every postcard in the region and there is one large waterfall.
Probably the most exciting part of the trip was the road to the access the National Park: 32 kilometer long and winding road up in the mountains, endless turns and not a single crossing. It’s a paradise for bike lovers. It’s also a place where many people get tempted to race and many do crash. Luckily, yours truly is a very responsible driver and we were driving super carefully.
Bokor Hill Station
The Bokor Hill Station used to be a French resort in the remote mountains to escape the heat and humidity of the capital and was built in 1921. Abandoned since the late 4Os by the French and by locals since 1972 the Bokor Palace Hotel, some old buildings and church slowly eroded away before getting a tourist attraction. And that is exactly the problem of this location. The whole building, even though it is sitting in a beautiful area with a magnificent view has been completely swept clean. A walk in the park as they say, the site even has a little shop on the parking area, a guard to look after your bike. It’s one big concrete construction which offers a beautiful view over the Gulf of Thailand from its roof. During the day it gets very crowded and it is only later that we learned the best moments to visit the area is either by sunrise or sunset.
Before we did explore the old Bokor Hill Station we did wander around the newly built city, hotel area and casino. Like Naypittaw in Myanmar, the city is under construction. This makes the atmosphere both very artificial and creepily empty. And the whole area lacks a lot of good taste. Too colourful buildings, repetitive structures, buildings without windows and little to no people or visitor. Though many buildings are still under development, almost each site has a guard. Those guards we did meet were surprised to see us and let us look around the building without any problem. I think they were happy to see someone as for the rest of the day I can’t imagine they have a lot to do.
After a while we did come to realise a large part of the nature park will be turned in a large resort. The Sokimex Group is Cambodia’s largest company active in petroleum import, airline, hotel management and managing the Angkor World Heritage Site. At Bokor they are investing 1 billion USD to create a new and larger Bokor city in the next few years.
The search for the waterfall
After visiting the Hill station area and the new town under construction we still wanted to see the waterfall. What we did not know is the waterfall completely runs dry during the high season. To make things worse, we did first drive by the entrance thinking they again would charge some entrance fee. So we opted to try to get to the waterfall, without exactly knowing where it was from another direction. At the end of the road, we did find a walking trail that would eventually lead to the waterfall too. Motivated by the idea of saving a few dollars, we did start our walk through the jungle with too little water and no map or directions at all. At first, there was a lot of garbage laying next to the road, colourful ribbons tied to the trees showed us the way how to walk. After a while, the garbage became less and less present, and the wide and comfortable walking path suddenly turned into a track where also hands were needed to be used: trees fallen over the roads, slippery and steep hills with ropes, spider webs that clearly indicated that it was already a while someone walked here. To make things even more creepy, at some point we did find a pair of new women’s shoes in the middle of the road. And a bit ahead the road a $100 bill. And a bit later, another one. When a bit later a large caterpillar was crawling over Elize’s pants and triggered a little panic attack, we wisely decided to turn back. Our phones out of reach, this place was getting a little bit too creepy for the two of us.
Once out of the jungle we did still stop at the official entrance of the waterfall. We did not have to pay. But there was also nothing to see but a huge wall of stone blocks. A dried out river and no waterfall.
Driving back to Kampot
During our descent back to Kampot I did tape the GoPro camera with some leftover gaffer tape on my helmet and filmed the whole drive for your viewing pleasure. 36 minutes and 57 seconds long. And because we do want to make sure you watch this video I decided to make a little quiz. The first person who mails us the correct answer to the following question will receive a little surprise souvenir gift from our trip:
- At which time in the video can you see the first elephant?
Send your answer to our known addresses that you can find on http://www.destinesia.eu/about-us/