“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”- John Muir
Here I absolutely agree with John Muir. Mountains, with their gossamer veils of mist wrapped around them, with their pleasant rejuvenating chill, the mountain air filled with the mild scent of fresh woods can carry away the heaviness from your heart. I experienced it way back in the nineties, during my life in Munnar and Valparai . Those feelings revisited me during our Bokor trip.
The stunning panoramic view from the mountains
Gulf of Thailand
Bokor Mountains is a delightful getaway for one or two days. From Phnom Penh it’s a three hour drive on NH4 to the charming Kampot city and then it is another one hour to Bokor mountains. The drive is a very pleasant one with the well maintained wide roads snaking up the mountains which is approximately 1077 metres from sea level.. The refreshing green on both sides sends energy waves through you. There are points from where you can enjoy the breathtaking panoramic view of the strip of Gulf of Thailand, thick cotton wool clouds floating over it, the quaint city of Kampot studded with its French buildings (if you are lucky enough to be on the mountains on a clear day). As you climb uphill the view gets more spectacular. The resort with a casino on top is the only modern sign of architecture. A walk around the resort is quite exhilarating.
Phnom Bokor used to be known as The Ghost Town! There is a mysterious air hugging almost everything upon the hill. It’s an abandoned town which was built during the French colonisation as a pleasant escape from the sultry Phnom Penh weather. History says that many lives were lost during the construction of this resort! I have read an article where they say that nine hundred people died during nine months!
The most attractive piece of architecture I found atop the hill is the old Catholic church. It has a mysterious, eerie, otherworldly charm about it! The moss covered stone structure has bullet holes on it.
There was a board saying “No sleeping here at night ‘, which adds to the sinister atmosphere here!
The stone building covered by orange lichen
The lone water tank, the Bokor Palace Hotel (which was abandoned by the French) which is under renovation now, all have this eerie charm. This was one of the the locations of the 2002 Hollywood movie ‘The City Of Ghosts’
Bokor Palace Hotel, ‘myst’eriously clad in mist
The waterfalls on the mountain is a favourite picnic spot of the locals. The old worn out pagoda too was packed with crowd as it was Pchum Ben time. I regret I could not take some good pictures of the old pagoda. I was pleasantly surprised to see a big poster of Shravan Kumar from the epic Ramayana, a synonym for parental devotion, in front of Wat sampove pram!
The old pagoda-Wat Sampove Pram
The new Vietnamese temple near Thansur resort too is a treat for the eyes.The vibrant colours stand stark against the blue vast sky!
At dusk the temple emanates so much tranquility!
The Peace and serenity that flows into you on these mountains can not be described in words! With another John Muir quote let me conclude.
‘Take a course in good water and air;
and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own.
Go quietly, alone, no harm will befall you.’- John Muir
A Fifty Shades of Green!