Thursday, November 20, 2008
Kep on the south coast of Cambodia is to revel in it's abandoned feel and some say ghostly past by visiting the slew of ruined and overgrown villas, but go now before they all disappear under the surge of construction work being undertaken on renovating or rebuilding these witnesses to the Khmer Rouge ideal of destroying anything of a bourgeois and decadent lifestyle. From the early part of the 2oth century, Kep was a haven for the elite of the colonial power France and the rich Cambodia aristocracy, who flocked to their weekend villas at Kep-sur-Mer. The murderous Khmer Rouge regime left the inhabitants dead and their mansions and villas in tatters. Locals talk of bodies found in the fuel drums of the local petrol station. Today, the villas, many in the new wave style of modernist Cambodian architecture of the '50s and '60s, are left empty or host a squatter family of two. All of them have already been snapped up cheaply by property speculators looking to make big money as the seaside resort and the coastline continues to gain in popularity. Included in the array of villas are two that belonged to King Norodom Sihanouk, whilst the mansions in the French colonial style are the one's most likely to receive a make-over rather than the sledge-hammer.
The King's Palace, on a hill overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, was never actually used by the sovereign
The second royal residence, the villa of King Norodom Sihanouk that looks out onto Rabbit Island in the bay directly in front