Travel Report: Bokor National Park Part I, Cambodia.
December 2015. It was December the 16th and Wonderboy and I had just landed in the river city of Kampot for the final leg of our great Cambodian adventure. The city itself proved thoroughly charming with its leafy lanes and thriving food and drink scene. But now, on day two, we were devoting our time to nearby Bokor National Park, a sprawling, lush-green hill station established by the French back in 1925. The entrance to the park lies a mere eight kilometres from Kampot city centre and you can access it via a shiny new road built in 2012.
Decorated by the spectral ruins of French colonial buildings, Bokor is truly a national park like no other. One of these creepy, abandoned structures is The Black Palace. I know it looks like a big shed, but this was actually a rural retreat for the Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk! Hence the fancy name.
Constructed right on the edge of a plateau, The Black Palace has decent views across Bokor Mountain and on a good day you can apparently see the coast.
The interior however is really drab, just a gutted shell that could be any old building really. In fact, the most interesting thing about it were the sporadic bursts of graffiti dotted about.
Much more dramatic is this impressive Buddha statue, known locally as the Lok Yeay Mao Monument. Apparently she’s a mythical heroine in Khmer history, worshipped as a protector of fisher folk, travellers and hunters. As a result, I made sure to pay my respects!
I wish I could tell you that the statue has a long and interesting history, but actually it was unveiled in 2010. Nevertheless, she still plays an important role in Khmer culture and therefore draws in a steady crowd of Cambodian visitors.
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