10 years ago, I visited Bokor Mountain for the first time in my life and it was a historical experience for me to see enlarged and enriched forest covering by huge trees and diversified natural combination. I wished I had a digital camera at that time to capture the beauty I have witnessed to share to my readers (probably my own children or younger generation who has no chance to see such existing things). However, I would try to describe this in text and hopefully you all follow my guiding tour back in the past 10 years.
In a tourist van, sitting on the first row of left-side, near the window area, your heart and soul would just repeating calling your mother to help due to road condition which was just fit your van’s vehicles and looking down on the hill, you could see dept forest where you could not imagine what would happen if your van would just miss its route. However, only one car was able to move forward; luckily, there was commonality that car arrival is permitted in the morning and car departure route is allowed in the afternoon to avoid the movement dilemma. While fearing about the route, the fresh air flowing through all opened window relieved much stressful moment and it is just so fresh and healthy cold in which no international air-con system could compete, not to mention the current equipped Panasonic in a room I am sitting now. When stopping in the middle of the road, while our van was not about to move due to high hill and everyone was advised to walk a bit to reduce the weight in the van, you could smell the forest flowers and other nature combination in mixed colors. What impressed me the most is the huge tree along the way that I had never ever seen them in my life (it could be 5 or 6 person to be able to round that tree up). Up to the hill, I could view the forest coverage while the cloud was so near to my head and my body was about to freeze due to light-clothes dressing. I was at that time so proud to be a Cambodian where my leaders and nation left me such a great nature legacy.
Today, in early 2013, I revisited Bokor National Park; it was totally new in shape and nature. What I should thank to current development would be road condition which I had not to pray to mother to help like in the past, but somehow, I would wish to see some old structure to be kept so that it give a sense of nature to Bokor condition. Even surprising me the most, the huge trees which I had witnessed are gone. I did not know where they were, whether they were old and death or they are logged. Even worse, the old building in red or green color due to the old condition (under sun and rain for long), has been renovated into new and concrete color. It was a sad moment to see such beautiful heritage has been changed in shaped, similar to other buildings or structure, like the well-known Angkor Wat, which the restoration work by the Indian archeologists and engineers in removing the vegetation surrounding the temple had been controversial of either being restored to a lost glory or is being irreversibly damaged.
The disappearance of enriched nature combination that I have witnessed in past 10 years ago and later concerned with the development plan back in 2008 has been taken placed and I do hope the development makers would balance its further strategy to environment and natural preservation. Development that fails to take care its environment and the legacy for next generation is not a sustainable development itself.
Note: I could found a useful blog by Constructing Cambodia who has observed and shared great photo of old and new Bokor Mountain.