KEP-BOKOR NATIONAL PARK
The first day of our trip was a 4 hours ride out of Phnom Penh to the little seaside province that is Kep where we spend a night. With its laid back seaside view, delicious seafood ( the crab there is a must try) and refreshing nature, Kep is a good place to unwind. Kep’s National Park is just half an hour ride from Kep. Row of restaurants line the beach that is within close proximity from our hotel. One should also visit the morning market selling fresh crab.
OLD PALACE CASINO AND HOTEL
An hour drive from Kep, we arrived at Preah Monivo National Park or Bokor National Park as I was told. It’s basically a mountainous area accessible by a newly paved road (courtesy of the Bokor Highland Resort). We were lucky because on a normal day, the mist would be so dense that anything beyond 5m is not visible. Sitting by the edge of a cliff, this remnant of the French colonial past was built in the 1920s. The first floor now sits a large empty lobby with high walls once a casino while on the second floor are 60 rooms which were once hotel rooms. It was abandoned by the French in the 1940s after the First Indochina War and then for good during the Khmer Rogue in the 1979.
The front reminds me of Wayne Manor, haha.
The backyard offers a magnificent view of the area’s general geography and the various towns that dot the area. Its possible to see the Phu Quoc island on a very clear day. The backyard once host party, probably in the evening for guest. One can only imagine its glamour. For reference, I think F Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby’s mansion would best fit the description of its heyday.
An old catholic church sits a few minute drive away from the Old Casino, another French constructed architecture. Yet again it remains me of the kind of setting Mike Mignola would draw for Hellboy to have an adventure in. In front of it is the Borkor Lake, which ‘never dries up’, even in the dry season according to our driver.
The last stop of the day is to the Popkovil Waterfall. The one we went to is upriver, so the water current is tamer. This pretty much concluded our first two days in Cambodia. Preah Monivong National Park is a pretty big park so its better to travel by car, though the more adventurous one may want to consider biking the whole trail, its pretty worth it.