Still progressing rapidly

There are rapid changes happening all the time up Bokor Mountain. The road from the visitor’s center to the waterfall is finished. There is a new canteen food court type establishment at the top of the waterfall. The waterfall is still nice but the whole area is completely ugly at the moment. Aside from the canteen, there has been mass clear-cutting off all the trees in the area to make way for what looks like a bunch of new residences.

Workers have vacated the old Bokor Palace Hotel and now the structure stands as it always has but with a new grey coating plastered on every surface. Even the nice old tile was covered so that only a boring grey shell remains.

There is a massive new paved loop from the Thansur Bokor Casino all the way to the waterfall. At the moment there is nothing to see but forest (which is nice).

There is new construction of a low cost hotel not far from the old Pagoda. The employees of Thansur say that there will be 600 rooms with some as low as $15 (more for gambling, I guess the plan is).

Driving up towards the female sitting Buddha (new parking area in front)

Front of the sitting Buddha (forgetting the the Black Palace across the road)

Driving up the new ramp to the foot of the Buddha

In front of the Buddha

Ribs of a new warehouse looking hotel going up (who designs these things?)

Always packed at Thansur with more minivans these days than Lexus’

New building going up beside Thansur

New residences being built behind Thansur

New residences going up behind Thansur

New residences going up behind Thansur Bokor

The old church lost in a maze of new roads and buildings

West side of Thansur

Closer view of the new hotel “ribs”

Closer view of the new hotel “ribs”

Closer view of the new hotel “ribs”

Approaching Thansur Bokor from the Back

Road behind Thansur Bokor Casino

It’s all over folks; Happyland is here

Yes, this is what Bokor National Park has become…

Wide open road looping from Thansur around to Popokvil waterfall

Clear cutting around Popokvil waterfall

Popokvil waterfall area with canteen in the background

New canteen building above the Popokvil waterfall

The end of the road past Popokvil – wall of trees

East side of Bokor Palace Hotel

Main room in Bokor Palace Hotel

View from up top Bokor Palace Hotel

View of refurbished upper west wing

Front of refurbished Bokor Palace Hotel

Front door of Bokor Palace Hotel

View from the west

Refurbishing the ranger station

Satellite view of the current progress

First casino open!

This trip up Bokor was our first trip to the casino. This is the ugliest box on the planet. Much more impressive is the extensive 3d model at the visitor’s center, even though it outlines the rest of the destruction at Bokor mountain. Also the French-era casino is being completely refurbished – this is a complete atrocity. At first I thought they were just going to reinforce it but now I see that it really is getting sandblasted and re-concreted. Despicable. Desecration of a great ruin and tourist attraction.

Oh and it has been mentioned before – so much for the national park!

Sitting Buddha is finished. It’s a Lady… strange.

Front of the casino

Thansur Bokor Highland Resort they’re calling it.

The REAL casino (what’s left of it) hidden in the mist

Exiting the side of the old casino

Main room – notice new concrete plastering the walls

Fireplace being redone

Front of the old casino

Doorway of the old casino

Front of the old French-era casino

Side view of the old casino

Front view of the old casino

Old casino as depicted on the model in the visitor’s centre

A future casino

A massive structure (much much bigger than the casino that just opened)

Another casino hotel

Model view of the existing pagoda (Wat Sampeau)

The model showing the just built casino (Thansur Bokor Highland Resort)

Another view of the model

There are supposed to be homes for 100,000 on top of Bokor. This is supposed to be a national park right?

A gondola up Bokor – doesn’t anyone want to hike up like in the good old days?

Some more buildings in the model

Another view of the model (did I mention this thing is awesome?)

Inside Thansur Bokor Highland Resort

Another view inside Thansur

Front doors of Thansur Bokor

National Park?

A new trip up Bokor this year was astounding. It’s safe to say, the old Bokor that we knew and loved is OVER!!! We’ll see if any of the national park can be preserved in years to come. For starters, the old Bokor Mountain Resort (usually people mistakenly call it the casino) is UNDER RENOVATION. What the hell? Who’s lame idea is this anyway? I could argue, for adventurers specifically, that Bokor was Cambodia’s 2nd (to Angkor Wat) premier attraction. This is all over. To make things worse, there are 10-15 odd new projects started on the ‘hill’.

Aside from renovation (the end) of Cambodia’s 2nd premier attraction, the old (real) casino is being renovated, the old church is completely occupied by day-labourers working on the new projects, a massive new (Sokha) resort is going up like no other construction in the country. Even the waterfall (Popokvil) is threatened. For some reason, the road is being paved out to the waterfall and a huge warehouse looking structure is being erected at the start of the hiking trail. The hiking trail has been widened so that even cars can find their way now ;).

You’d think the black palace half way down the hill would be spared but now it is joined across the road by a gargantuan sitting Buddha. Huge transmission towers now dot their way up the hill signalling huge power demand for the completed resort. The scars on the sides of the hill from recent road construction can be seen as far as 50km away (from Kep for example). Peaceful Bokor is now interupted by the sound of dynamite at various locations on the hill at least every 20 minutes. To top things off, the mist decided to leave and haunt Kirirom since there are few ruins up Bokor and nothing spooky about Sokha’s new resort and asian theme land.

New road up the hill, with hillside scars in view (at least they left the cool old French bridge)

Huge new sitting Buddha project to divert gaze from the Black Palace

Black palace on left with new sitting Buddha up the hill on the right

Sitting Buddha closer view

New Sokha resort as seen nearing the top of the mountain

New resort monolith construction up close

Clearing the land for more construction near the new resort

Clearing the land for more construction near the new resort

New resort construction close-up

New resort construction close-up

Resort construction side view

Renovations of old Bokor Mountain Resort (nooooooooo!!!)

Bokor Mountain Resort renovations (don’t even try to go in anymore!)

Bokor Mountain Resort at the back

Bokor Mountain Resort at the back

Bokor Mountain Resort from the side (old tower in the background)

(old) Bokor Mountain Resort renovations front view

(old) Bokor Mountain Resort renovations side view

(old) Bokor Mountain Resort renovations side view

Some remaining ruins, new building, old resort in background

King’s Villa ruins with sitting Buddha construction in the far background

New road past the ranger’s station with plans for electrification

Old casino renovations with ranger station in background

old casino renovations near lake

Old resort renovations from afar

Foundations for another huge development between the old and new projects (rebar a little higher this year but other than that, not much new at this location)

Sokha resort approching from the side

Sokha resort side view

Sokha resort side view

New ugly warehouse-looking building beside the falls

Those hill scars on the way up again

Foundations for that new project mentioned earlier (different view)

Old resort renovations as viewed driving up the new road

Construction continues

Construction of the new Bokor mountain resort continues, at least in a limited area for now, around the new resort hotel.

New road finished now up the mountain (scars visible from all over the province)

Construction starts on the resort building (on the hill beside the old casino)

Foundation for the new resort

Ground is broken

The road up Bokor mountain is nearly paved but there isn’t a whole lot going on up top yet (thankfully). The last time I checked, it wasn’t the best idea to build new cities on the top of National Park mountains. That’s what the plans indicate anyway. If I am still around Cambodia in 15 years when the new resort and amenities are finished, I’m sure by then I’ll be hardened to all types of atrocities and eyesores.

The Sokimex website says it quite eloquently:

“A historic cool getaway spot during the colonial French era.
Bokor Mountain majestically overlook the coastal town of Kampot like a sleeping giant, 1079 meters above sea level.”

“We not for long because Sokimex Group will transform this unique 5 square kilometer picturesque mountain plateau into a resort for international and local tourist alike.”

Seriously? I appreciate the ‘temporary’ addition anyway.

The amount of rebar sticking out of the ground suggests something might actually happen up here.

I prefer the previous casino and resort actually.

You’re kidding me right?


Road construction up the mountain

The good old days

Bokor mountain has always been since the start of Cambodia backpacking (early 2000s), a mysterious mountain full of spooky ruins – guaranteed to be on all adveturer travel lists. Now the awesome abandoned mountain as we knew it is threated to be ruined forever by mass-ugly-asian-themepark-resort-development. Lets take a moment to remember the Bokor of the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s.

The ‘old’ road up Bokor

The ‘old’ road up Bokor

Old casino ruins

Old church ruins

Casino top down view

Creepy spaceship watertower

The church in spooky mist

The casino in spooky mist

One of the upper floor casino wings

The (royal) Black Palace part way down the mountain

Popokvil waterfall down the road from the casino

French hillstation

The french first explored the Bokor plateau in 1912 and soon after decided they would fancy a hill station up there. Some historical moments before everything went sideways into decades of war.

Front view from the rocks

Side view

From the parking area out front

Indochina governor’s scrapbook from visiting in 1925