Bokor WAS a National Park

Bokor Mountain is ruinedThe banner picture you see on the top of every page in the Kampot & Kep section is now history.

The construction of the Sokha Resort on top of Bokor Mountain has led to far more destruction than feared in the once National Park.

It’s not only this new resort that is ‘under construction’: there are at least TEN (yes, 10!) other projects that have or will degrade the ‘national park’ to a fun or entertainment park.

A treasure lost…

Clear the way for the Lexus!

For starters, the road has been ‘upgraded’, meaning widened. Of course! After all, the Lexus’s and Hummers of the Cambodians that care less about nature preservation need to go up and down at the highest speed, preferably with a police escort. See how it was and how it is:

Bokor Mountain, Kampot, CambodiaBokor Mountain, Kampot, Cambodia

As you can see, both sides the trees have been cut back and diggers have gouged out great scoops of rock.

Let’s develop destruct!

This throat-slitting of Mother Nature makes you already break down in tears, doesn’t it? Well, that’s not all. On the pictures below you see the construction of the Sokha Resort and the clearing of land next to it for more destruction, errr… I mean ‘development’:

Bokor Mountain, Kampot, CambodiaBokor Mountain, Kampot, Cambodia

But there is a conservation plan…

And what boosts Sokimex (the company behind Sokha Hotels & Resorts) about on its website? “The development will include the conservation plan for wild life and natural forests.” (source)
Yeah…, right!

Restoring the old casino

Meanwhile the nearby old casino is being restored. Now, that’s in my opinion not necessarily a bad thing. Although the old ruin had a unique charm and feel to it, we cannot complain about the neglect of beautiful French historical buildings in Phnom Penh and at the same time want to preserve the ruined state of the casino. However, will they restore it to its original state? I’m afraid not, but for now, they have the benefit of the doubt. See the ruined casino and the restoration going on:

Bokor Mountain, Kampot, CambodiaBokor Mountain, Kampot, Cambodia

Let us win in gambling!

Another ruin down the road is the so-called Black Palace build by ex-king Norodom Sihanouk. Not a particularly spectacular building by the way and Sokha found it appropriate to build a huge statue of Lok Yeay Mao (Grandma Mao) right next to it:

Bokor Mountain, Kampot, CambodiaBokor Mountain, Kampot, Cambodia

And why? Well, it’s another source of income of course! Lok Yeay Mao is considered the protector of travellers and hunters. Anyone who has driven between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville has seen drivers stop at her temple along National Road 4 to pay their respects (read: buy incense and other gifts). Around the temple is an industry of incense sellers, hawkers and drink and eat stalls. At Bokor people probably are going to pray at Lok Yeay Mao for gambling luck and I have no doubt the same industry as along the road to Sihanoukville will develop here. Of course these sellers have to pay for the privilege and guess who will be the collector of those fees! (And who doesn’t want those prayers at Yeay Mao come true…)

Other ‘developments’

Look at the pictures below. What’s that on the left going to be? Hopefully not an ugly warehouse like building as on the right, which sits at the start of the hiking trail to Popokvil waterfall! If you were not convinced destroying of Bokor ‘National Park’ is in full swing, you are probably now.

Bokor Mountain, Kampot, CambodiaBokor Mountain, Kampot, Cambodia

Hydroelectric plant

And then there is also the hydroelectric plant that’s officially going to be in operation on December 6th. About 2,000 hectares of protected forest were cleared for the construction of the dam.” See pictures of the construction and the almost finished dam below.

It’s bye bye Bokor!