Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Road to Bokor

Waiting patiently at the gate to get into the Bokor National Park. Tim's the smug one wearing the cap.
The road to Bokor must be my most boring-ever post on this blog, unless you beg to differ. I have a stack of photos from my recent trip to the south coast to post so I'll kick off with my visit to Bokor Mountain, some 40kms from Kampot. Tim and I hooked up with one of the only two companies granted the concession to take travellers up by the road option - there's a trekking option which we weren't interested in. For the road option, we went with Sok Lim Tours and it costs between $35-40 depending on your bargaining skills. We got it for $30 each, but it's still a rip-off! The Toyota wagon had 11 tourists on board, a driver and a guide. Nine of us held on tightly on the back of the pick-up for one of the most uncomfortable rides of my life, and I've had a few in Cambodia over the years. The road is being repaired, renovated, call it what you will but so far the Sokha Group, who have taken over the mountain as their own private playground for the forseeable future, have done lots of preparatory work but practically none of the 30-odd kms up the mountain is anywhere near finished. I reckon it'll be years before it is. They've widened the road in places and it bodes well for the future, but that's a long way off and today, its a bumpy, rutted, pot-holed mess. Overnight rain and wet cloying mud weren't a help either. Anyway, here's some photos but it was impossible to take a reasonable picture during the really rough stuff, so apologies for that. After an hour of torture, we stopped and the guide informed us that we would then hike for another hour to avoid the worst of the road. He must be kidding, but no. So we began our wallk, uphill, along a trail through the forest. Besides the wildlife and a small bubbling stream I was not impressed. To me it was wasting time when I could be on top of the plateau poking around the burnt-out shells of buildings - I had been on top of Bokor once before, eight years ago and was in a hurry to get back there, not to walk through a forest! We emerged to walk the final 500 metres to the Black Tiger Palace complex of buildings, which was the haunt of the Royal family and which sits on the edge of the mountainside with gorgeous views to enjoy. More of that later. Here's a few pictures. Pretty boring stuff.
A welcome notice talks about conservation but doesn't mention Sokha's future golf courses, etc
This is easily the best portion of road, just past the entrance gate!
Lots of road clearance has taken place but still bumpy
This was the bubbling stream during our nature walk through the forest
This slice of road is heavenly compared to most of the crap we drove on
We're on our final 100 metres before reaching the Black Palace of Norodom Sihanouk

6 Comments:

Anonymous Eric said...

"...Tim and I hooked up with one of the only two companies granted the concession to take travellers up by the road option - there's a trekking option which we weren't interested in. For the road option, we went with Sok Lim Tours and it costs between $35-40 depending on your bargaining skills. We got it for $30 each, but it's still a rip-off! The Toyota wagon had 11 tourists on board, a driver and a guide..."

Andy dear, this is an absolutely rip-off...
Does it mean that you cannot hire a Camry with driver to take you up-hill?
Only 11 months ago I just paid $30 for the whole car....
Keep in touch, my friend.

December 2, 2008 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Eric darling, you cannot hire a Camry or even take a motorbike up Bokor these days. Its the tour company pick-up (who are in league with both Sokha and the Park Rangers I would suggest to maintain the monopoly) or you have to walk and that would take all of about 7 hours they reckon.
By the way the rip-off fee you pay today does include the $5 entrance fee, a curry & vegetables lunch, bottled water, a guide, a seat on a roller-coaster called a pick-up and more bruises than I cared to count.
Andy

December 2, 2008 at 11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like their renovating the road leading up to the Bokor Hill Station. I have the feeling it's going to be very popular once completed.

December 3, 2008 at 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a total environmental disaster...

May 8, 2009 at 2:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked for 9 years raising funds to support Bokor park protection. The RGC - Ministry of Environment took World Bank money, USAIDs, about 10 other charities...broke a Memorandum of Understanding that supposedly guranteed the conservation of Bokor and still sold it without due process or bidding for less than the combined monies we helped raise...i'm sick and tired of them [RGC]! We have bailed and will not waste our time or resources on them again.

August 21, 2009 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Megan Brownrigg said...

Anonymous, not sure you'll see this, but I'm trying to cover an article on Bokor's history and the horror of the new developments for the Phnom Penh Post...would you be willing to tell me a little bit about your experiences of trying to defend the National Park?

July 17, 2014 at 4:51 PM  

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