Finally to the Dam

I finally snuck past 2 guard posts and got my first look at 3rd tier dam and reservoir of the Kamchay hydropower station. Although public access is not allowed onto the dam, a hike in the nearby hills gave me a peek of the reservoir behind. This being dry season, there is not a lot of action at the dam despite the fact that the dam has been operational for much of the last year. This is related to the recent circulating rumours that the dam hasn’t been producing up to original predictions and is essentially offline in the dry season.

Front of the dam as viewed from the dirt road on the east side of the river

Front of the dam as viewed from the dirt road on the east side of the river

Empty river in front of the dam

Abandoned gravel pit and storage area on the east bank

Gravel loading tunnels for the trucks

Abandoned gravel pit (anyone going to clean this up now?)

Abandoned gravel pits on the east bank

Abandoned construction site used in the dam construction

Other crap as you approach the dam on the east bank

A peek behind the dam at the recently flooded reservoir

Closer view of the reservoir

Another peek at the reservoir

Dam from the east bank

Front view of the dam from a small bridge at the base

Empty tuk chhu river below the dam

Gated entrance to the top of the dam wall

Recent satellite photo of the dam and reservoir

Reservoir size

What the dam looked like in rainy season 2012

Who can get to stage 3?

I still haven’t been able to get to stage 3 of the dam (main dam with reservoir behind it). I tried to get there today by using the east side (of the Tek Chuu river) road. This unpaved road used to lead up to stage 3 but there was a small guard box blocking the way. I thought maybe this guard box would be removed now that the dam is apparently operational.

I was right, the guard box wasn’t there. BUT, the road has been sabotaged!! Unfortunately, I went there via moto this time and couldn’t get through. There is a good chance if I go again by bicycle, I could cross the sabotaged areas, but maybe there is another way. I assume access via the west side is still closed to the public. Maybe from the north it is possible? Anyone been to stage 3? I heard that the dam is sort of a failure – not producing nearly as hoped.

An older picture. This has got to be stage 2.

Stage 1 in operation at the present day.

Stage 1 viewed through the fence on the east side of the Tek Chuu River

Stage 2. Finished and painted since my last visit.

Another shot of stage 2

Road to stage 3 sabotaged on the east side of the river

Another portion of the road sabotaged

This is what stage 3 is supposed to look like

Construction of stage 3 (I think)

Update on Kamchay

Today I cycled along the east side of the Tek Chou river, along the road that the construction trucks use.  This gives a bird’s eye view of the lower-most part of the hydropower dam:

view from hill east of dam

close-up of the dam

Further up the road, my first glance at another part of the project just up stream.  There is no dam here – just a channel.  I don’t really know what’s happening here right now and am not sure about the huge building either.  A security checkpoint just after this point forced me to return the way I came.

concrete channel


huge building construction

random hole into the mountain. maybe the high speed train link to Bokor ;) ?

view further back

River dried up and Suspension bridge destroyed

This visit to Tek Chou rapids was pretty depressing. The parking lot is clear of vendors and visitors. The most striking difference is the suspension bridge previously spanning part of the river, is presently wrapped around nearby trees. The locals mentioned that one day the dam relesed too much water and took out the bridge. I’ll say! The Tek Chou river below the dam is pretty much dry but then again, it is the dry season.

Dam construction and dried up river


Dam construction and dried up river

Remains of suspension bridge


Remains of suspension bridge

Early stages

Some beginning work of the Kamchay dam upper level section:

Must be near stage 3 construction

Overseeing stage 3

Likely construction of the third and largest phase of the dam

Construction of phase 3?

Construction of phase 1 or 2

Definitely construction of phase 1

Bridge apparently at the Kamchay site (couldn’t find it myself)

Stage 3 (I think)

Turbine Construction

Stage 3 (I think) again

Kamchay view from Tek Chou Rapids

Presently, Tek Chou Rapids is enjoyed by many local people visiting from Kampot or Phnom Penh. The experience starts with a parking lot full of food vendors, then a walk across a suspension bridge towards the swimming area in the rapids. The Kamchay dam begins to loom over, threatning to change the dynamic of the popular tourist attraction.

Sinohydro Project Description

Walking the suspension bridge

enjoying the rapids


view of the dam construction from the rapids

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