Friday, April 5, 2013

Exorcising the ghost town

Isn't progress annoying? The devastated colonial ruins of Cambodia's Bokor National Park have been a favourite stop on the tourist trail since the country opened its gates in the 1990s to let in the eager hordes of backpackers looking for something edgier than Thailand. These tourists, in typically thoughtless fashion, proceeded to benefit Cambodia's economy significantly, to the point that the country now has the resources to clean up some of the ugly and depressing eyesores from its war-ravaged past and build lucrative casinos and resorts in their place.

How DARE they? If you've ever visited Cambodia, YOU are responsible for this desecration of this arbitrarily defined heritage. I wanted to see the black and burnt ruins of a 1920s hotel jutting tombstonelike out of a serene hill, not a polished building ready for renovation and a new lease of life. When will you people realise that by aiding the economic recovery and development of these countries, you're ultimately only serving to make your travel photos look slightly less poignant and yourself look a little less adventurous as a result? You make me sick.

Before Anonymous chips in, I should point out that not everything I write here is completely sincere. Though I am glad I got the chance to see the Bokor Hill Station and some of the other surviving, grotty buildings around here before they were torn down to make way for the Chinese Las Vegas of Cambodia, even if they don't look so exciting these days.

Bokor National Park

The Black Palace sounded irresistibly sinister, but just turned out to be a bit dirty

I was disappointed at the lack of backwards-talking dwarfs and giants. If you don't understand the reference, you probably didn't watch Twin Peaks. If you don't like not understanding things, you should give Twin Peaks a wide berth

This used to be a dance hall in more jovial times, just to tug at the heart strings.
Why not go all the way and tell us it was a child's play room?

Yeay, it's Yeay Mao!

I'm sure Popokvil Waterfall looks pretty great in the rainy season. I'm not sure why they persist in making the stop-off during the other nine months of the year when there's nothing to see. Maybe it's too much hassle to alter the paperwork

Wat Sampeau Moi Roi was apparently 'restored' in 2000. By who, Gamera?

Bokor Hill Station from the temple

And up close. I'm grateful they at least tried to make it look scary by bringing in clouds, but it was less dingy than I'd been hoping since they cleaned it up

Though I still had a slight yearning to conduct a paranormal investigation overnight. Old habit

The Catholic Church looked attractively worse for wear too.
Nowhere does dilapidation better than Cambodia

With the Killing Fields and ghost towns, this trip's been a bit of a downer, hasn't it?
Don't worry, I'm actually quite enjoying myself

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