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.
I have been to Bokor quite sometime ago… exactly on newyear where there were people shooting each other leaving two deads. 2006 I think.
Well when I’ll be in Kampot this summer, I don’t think I would like to show my friends what they have done to Bokor. A casino ? What a lousy idea for a developing country ! I wonder who have sold such an idea to the country’s deciders ?
It seems that there’s no notion of heritage of the nation. What do the Cambodians will leave to their children ? A land of malls and casinos ? Where are the trees ans, the tigers ans the elephants ? How many centuries will take the trees to grow up ? Will extinct animals ever come back ? It take only a few hours to cut a 200 year old tree.
Selling all the country to investors is the best way to impoverish the nation and to keep it dependent. The people will get the crumbles but will never get the emancipation from poverty.
Luckily, you have not known Kirirom or Kampons Saom when these places where in the middle of beautiful forests. I have known that and it broke my heart when I saw theses places with and the forests cut off !
Anyway, I am not sure Cambodians care much for their forests, maybe except the minorities living there. I think it is too late to safe anything left. Kohkong ? Cardamon ? Modlkiri ?
It’s very sad. Especially for you.
[…] as in colonial area are destroyed or decorated in a weird and wrong perception such as building at Bokor resort or some colonial building in Phnom Penh […]
Great article! Even i had not been at Bokor in last ten years, i feel like i were there. I only heard about Bokor from my mother, who lived at the bottom of the mountain in 1960s, with my grandpa and grandma. My mother said “you know there are may huge stones like mushrooms near my house that can provide shadow at daytime. At night time, we people scared to have argument at night because tigers will come for them”. Yeah.. traditional believe.
Ultimately, i have been there lately in 2011 but only on the top.
I wish i can be at the bottom once.