Published: August 24th 2007August 20th 2007
The Ghost town of Bokor hill station
Well at some point it was time to leave the civilisation of the capital, and head to the south of the country, to the province of Kampot, and the town of the same name (that is Kampot). This whole area used to be the cote d'azur of Cambodia where the colonial expats and creme de la creme of Phnom Penh would whizz down for the week end for a bit of beaching/drinking/gambling. They would also keep some girlfriends in the area which would come really handy with the boozing and the gambling.
Sadly, the party was over when the Khmer Rouge came to power, and ever since the area has not really recovered, the main resort city of Kep is now a near ghost tour of abandoned colonial villas etc.
I spent a couple of days in Kampot which is quite charming, sitting next to the river (the city, not me), and surrounded by green green rice paddies. I drove up to an abandoned hill station which the French built around 1915, called Bokor. What is a hill station? It is a place, on a hill, which is quite hard to get to ( 3 hours each way on the Worst
The road was aweful, so the inevitable happened..
Road in the World, though at the time the French had a real road). At the time, it had 3 buildings: a hotel, a casino, and a church. All the bare essentials, right?
Right now all these buildings are totally abandoned and derelict, and it was amazing to wander through them, the old casino, the old ballroom, imagining what it was like at the time. As it was raining when I was there, there was a white mist seeping through the window-holes, giving the whole place a very eerie feel.
After that, I hired a guide for the day (called Sam and who I think wanted to marry me) and we whizzed around the country side visiting temples, a pepper plantation (apparently Kampot Petter is The Best Pepper in the World) and also going to this karaoke place where we sat with local policemen who liked to drink rice wine and sing karaoke songs like "I fell in love with you at the rice paddy and our love will last forever".
Then, I headed off to this near-desert island called "Rabbit Island" because apparently it looks like a rabbit (et maybe after a lot of drinking of rice
Have you ever sat eating a BACON dish while a pig runs under yourchair in the restaurant? I have!
wine it does, I failed to spot the link) where time brutally stopped, and once could have spent eternity there sitting on a hamoc and eating fresh sea food. But I only stayed there for a night (I like it when time stops, sitting in hamocs and eating sea food, but I do not like the lack of running water and a hot shower for too long!).
Now am in Sihanoukville, the Costa-del-Cambodia (over built sea side town) which has a few lovely beaches, but is a bit of a tourist trap (which is not that bad, after the near-desert island, I mean it has CARROT CAKE!!).
In the next few days will visit around here before heading to Bangkok via land, should be a bit of an adventure!!).
Take care all.
There are more photos below