Where do I start, what a fantastic day out. We left our guesthouse in the back of a pick up truck at 8.30 to head up to Bokor Hill Station and National Park. Our group of 8 were fantastic, including Malaysian girl with Dutch guy, another dutch couple and an English girl.
The road to the station is very steep and like a very bad Aussie Outback road that has been washed away. The driver was excellent - although not sure how he managed to drive so fast in the conditions without going over the edge (only joking, he did drive fast at times but slowed when it was really bumpy).
Trees and bushed overhung the road and we were warned to duck, and particularly try and avoid a Tiger Nail plant. I don't think I have laughed as much for ages, it was so funny with everyone trying to avoid being wacked around the face with greenery. After about 20km we were getting a bit more involved in chatting than looking and the Malaysian girl and myself got had by a baby Tiger Nail (her in the hand and me in the head). The guides were so concerned but it
was only a little cut - they certainly are sharp and would not have wanted to be attached to a full grown one.
The temperature was dropping rapidly as we went up (the hill is 1080 metres high) with clouds swirling all around giving a very ghostly appearance to stunning scenery. For much of the first half you could see directly out over the sea and a long way down the coast then as you went higher it was views of mountains and nature.
On the way up we saw monkeys high up in the trees and heaps of butterflies.
First stop the Black Palace and other associated buildings. Our guide gave as a good history of the fighting in Cambodia, he lost his grandparents and parents when he was 2. He has learnt some incredible bird calls that the kids all learned to warn each other of danger and when to hide in the jungle. They used to eat termites, caterpillars and all sorts of strange stuff to survive.
There should have been the best views from the Black Palace but cloud too dense. The buildings would once have been very impressive, some of the ruins you can still
not walk to as there are no paths and could still be land mines.
Next to the church (the station was French) and then the main residence. What a building, huge and impressive I would love to see the original floor plan as we kept getting lost and going round in circles.
The Khmer Rouge used this to fight the vietnamese, many of the windows are bricked in, there are bullet holes in the buildings. It was really eerie, our guide reckons he has seen ghosts up there (you could almost believe it). It was built in 1920's, then deserted from 1940 to 1945 during WW2. Re opened untill 1970 when the war started. It is amazing how ruined it has become in such a short time and unless they do something it may not be around at all much longer.
Lunch and off we go. We walked down to the old casino ruins (they used to be at the summit but apparently they got fed up with people jumping off when they lost all their money) so moved it lower down. Back in truck - down was funnier, for some reason the plants seemed to have got even
lower.... Half way we stopped and went for a hike for an hour through the jungle which was lovely and a great break for the backside.
Next we saw a couple of gibbons swinging through the trees - they are very black and hard to spot, we were told we were lucky to see them. At the same spot there were also a number of yellow horn bills - fantastic, impressive birds. Huge with beautiful markings and interesting flight.
Back at the bottom but not the end of the trip (and yes there's still more). Sunset river trip in a long tail boat. The river is stunning and the hour very relaxing after bumping around all day.
Back at the ranch an old Canadian who has bought some land here started chatting - he got his mate to play the guitar and we had a great night dancing to old rock music.
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