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Bokor Mountain - See it before it's gone!

  • docgliv

    Joined Travelfish
    24th September, 2006
    Posts: 8
    Total reviews: 4

    Bokor Mountain was one of the most special places we visited in Cambodia (Nov 2006). Besides the refreshing cool breeze and climate, it is a magical atmosphere. One can wonder for hours around the hillsides walking through the ruins and imagining the French colonial architecture were intact.

    The road was absolutely horrible and be warned that several (larger) tourists vehicles did not make it, though our Toyota Corolla driver magically maneuvered the car-sized pot holes.

    Accomodations are spartan, but still a worthwhile experience. Because it takes so long currently to get there (4-5 hours minimum from the park entry), you need an overnight to fully appreciate the area. The view from the cliffs over the southern coast is spectacular, the small Wat and friendly monks are worth visiting (be sure to feed the blind monkey), the nearby waterfalls are cools, etc., etc. Most of all, the tranquility of being fairly alone in this special place is very refreshing in this part of the world.

    All this is going away if Sokha Hotels has its way!!! Yes, the same company that owns the oil distributions for all of Cambodia, all of Sokha Beach and the Sokha Hotel, and has the rights to control entry to Angkor Wat, was recently reported as securing a deal to develop this pristine coastal plateau into a 300-bed hotel, 11 luxury villas, 9-hole golf course, etc.

    Granted, the road needs repaving and people need work. However, if the perception of rampant government corruption is true (and I suspect it is), the only people that will benefit will be the government and the Sokha corporation. Just look at Sokha beach (where kick out locals) and Angkor Wat - the profits are clearly NOT going to the locals.

    SAVE BOKOR! Strangely, when I talked to Cambodians about this, they don't seem perturbed. They just want the work at any cost, or they really have not had the luxury to visit the place and this type of exploitation is an everyday occurence.

    Rename Cambodia Sokhaville because soon they will own every natural resource in the country!!!

    #1 Posted: 23/11/2006 - 22:57

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  • vuh

    Joined Travelfish
    1st May, 2007
    Posts: 24

    Hello docgliv,

    Thank you for your message and especially your warning about this Sokha company.
    I plan to visit Bokor National Park in the middle June 2007.
    Can you recommand an agency as the drive is rather long and a overnight is necessary.
    I read that the is the bus going from Sihanoukville to Kampot. But from Kampot, how could I reach Bokor National park entry ?
    I guess that it would be wise to plan this trip ahead ?
    Thank you for your help

    #2 Posted: 2/5/2007 - 15:22

  • CunningMcFar

    Joined Travelfish
    20th August, 2004
    Posts: 163
    Total reviews: 45

    Sok Lim does a fun trip up Bokor by pick-up, $10 includes excellent lunch on top and a scenic boat trip back to town: www.soklimtours.com

    #3 Posted: 7/5/2007 - 20:41

  • tomicjojo

    Joined Travelfish
    18th July, 2010
    Posts: 1

    18 July 2010 - As this massive $1 billion development takes form, a visit to this national park becomes less about appreciating nature and more about witnessing its destruction. The 4 lane access road into the southern section of the park and the huge footprint of the development on Bokor Mountain will have a major impact on this park especially its larger rare and endangered animals. After years of campaigning by devoted Cambodians and the international conservation NGOs the battle to preserve this magnificent park has been lost, as has the ecotourism trade for the locals, only to be to be replaced by the big buisness of a 5 star hotel, golf course, casino and a plethora of villas.

    #4 Posted: 18/7/2010 - 10:26

  • mikethediver

    Click here to learn more about mikethediver
    Joined Travelfish
    23rd March, 2008
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 205
    Total reviews: 3

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    Don't be too hard on the Cambodian's, it will mean more jobs for them than the occasional visitor in rugged conditions can provide.

    After all we, (that is the West), can't save the whales or stop the destruction of the North Sea fisheries by over fishing. And we have a social security system that will stop us starving if we don't have jobs!.

    #5 Posted: 22/7/2010 - 17:51

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    More low-paid,menial jobs with long hours and poor conditions.And that makes it OK to destroy this beautiful area?

    #6 Posted: 23/7/2010 - 16:12

  • mikethediver

    Click here to learn more about mikethediver
    Joined Travelfish
    23rd March, 2008
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 205
    Total reviews: 3

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    Hi Sayadian,
    Not sure if this is the right place for this discuission, maybe it should be moved to idle banter.

    However, no it's not Ok to destroy an beautiful area and hopefully the people doing it will not destroy it totally, afteral, they want well heeled tourist to go there to get their money back. Of course it will change and not to the liking of most backpackers.

    This happens all over the world. Phuket , which I am very fimilar with from days pasted, was once a beautiful island and now looks like Benidorm, the same is true of other location around the world.

    Now Phuket provides employment for 1000's of Thais and by no means are they all 'low-paid,menial jobs with long hours and poor conditions'.

    No it's not Ok, but I can only restate , 'Don't be too hard on the Cambodian's, it will mean more jobs for them than the occasional visitor in rugged conditions can provide'.
    Mike

    #7 Posted: 27/7/2010 - 12:04

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    I understand your point Mike but if you know the sort of development that is going on in Cambodia over the last few years you'll have an idea of why I get pretty angry with the schemes thought up by the Cambodian government.Most development isn't there because it will enhance the environment or provide jobs or improve the area; it's done for one reason only - grasping greed.I agree entirely with the OP.
    ATB

    #8 Posted: 27/7/2010 - 14:48

  • yukata

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd June, 2010
    Posts: 8

    In light of all the recent politics surrounding Bokor, does that mean it is no longer accessible to tourists? Bokor is one of the main places I want to visit in early August when I travel in Cambodia, but if I can't get out there I may avoid the south all together. It sounds phenomenal...any updates on visiting?

    #9 Posted: 28/7/2010 - 06:50

  • Archmichael

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd July, 2008
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 396
    Total reviews: 2

    Yukata:

    You might take a look at the Khmer440 website. I've read some posts there about what's going on at Bokor

    #10 Posted: 9/8/2010 - 07:20

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  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
    17th December, 2009
    Posts: 771

    I don't understand all the fuss and agree with Mike.

    None of these arguments were used when europe was rebuilt after being blown apart in the second world war. Bokor has a beautiful location and is complete run down now because of the war. Apart from a few backpackers (that spend perhaps $10 each per day) it doesn't provide any boost to the local economy. A resort will. Yes it might not be great design and damage might be done (although they will only develop parts that were developed long ago and the majority of the park will remain untouched (for now)) but leave that to Cambodians it's their land and they want to get ahead with jobs etc. They will also find out that nature preservation is important.

    Try to image your parents in war-torn europe and some rich outsider started telling them that they should not develop things.

    Apart from that you may have to live with the fact that asian tourists will become more important in this region and things will be made to their tastes and not western tastes.

    Go and protest development of major tourist attractions in your home country. I don't hear much when euro disney's are built or golf course number 1000 in a pristine nature area. Westerners are too quick to ruin their own country and then point fingers at others countries. Especially third world countries.

    btw. I'm western and not asian.

    #11 Posted: 9/8/2010 - 14:56

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    Eastwest
    If the Cambodian government had economic regeneration and attractive resorts in mind I wouldn't care but they have a really bad track
    record.Just two examples of many would be the mess they have made in Sihanoukville where 75% of the beach fronts are fenced off and many people evicted from their livelihoods and the appalling development at the lake in PP.
    Development is fine but it will be haphazard,ugly and on past experience it's more likely to end up with people being thrown off their land to make way for construction rather than the economic panacea you envisage.
    Only thing I would agree with is the increasing power of Asian tourism especially the Chinese

    #12 Posted: 9/8/2010 - 23:29

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
    17th December, 2009
    Posts: 771

    sayadian we don't agree on many things apparently but I do enjoy the discussion and respect your opinion. We'll probably never agree however.

    Let me first say that I've also seen and heard the plans for Bokor and I also do not like what I see and hear. Nor do I like anything that Sokha company does.
    My point was (and is) that westerners hold different standards and in this case regarding big corporations.

    Plenty of western companies (much bigger than Sokha) are unethical and greedy. Total makes huge profits in Myanmar, BP (apart from the obvious oil spill) frees convicted murderers to drill for oil in Libya, Siemens has bribed for years people to get contracts, Petronas is a huge backer of Sentosa in Singapore.
    Why should we hold different standards for a Cambodian company? To think that western companies are less greedy or more caring seems strange to me. Nor are the governments involved less corrupt. Sure it is less visible (or put in a nice packing) but it certainly is there.

    And I do believe that in the end more people will profit from the development. A place such as Bokor will provide already work to at least 200 people and I haven't mentioned the jobs that have already been created by building the road and the actual contruction. How many people make money out of Bokor now? Probably 10 or so.

    As for the track record: yes it's bad. It's a developing country. Nobody is perfect and mistakes will happen but it's better to do something and learn along the way than to do nothing.

    I do agree about the problem of evictions (and lack of proper protection & compensation) but I do not see the relation to what is built afterwards. That is however not the case in Bokor.

    #13 Posted: 10/8/2010 - 11:51

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    Eastwest
    I think we probably agree on more points than you think.
    I don't think I said that western companies are any more ethical or more caring.I agree with you on that point.
    What I would disagree with you on is that in 'the west' we have thriving protest movements and ordinary people have the power to get together (and often do) in order to pressurise big business when they see bad behaviour.You mention BP.There have been numerous protests against their behaviour.When the Cambodian people have tried to involve themselves in anything similar it has resulted in repression.Similarly, through the efforts of The Burma Campaign Total have been exposed for what they are doing.The companies employing sweat shop labour in Asia have been exposed and shamed into doing something (admittedly not a huge deal) about it.Yes there is corruption in the west and downright unethical behaviour but we have active mechanisms to expose it, some of the less democratic countries in Asia don't.
    I hope you are right and the Bokor development creates wealth and jobs for the ordinary Cambodian people.
    ...but I'm not holding my breath.
    My apologies that this thread has gone a little off thread.

    #14 Posted: 10/8/2010 - 14:27

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    Eastwest
    I think we probably agree on more points than you think.
    I don't think I said that western companies are any more ethical or more caring.I agree with you on that point.
    What I would disagree with you on is that in 'the west' we have thriving protest movements and ordinary people have the power to get together (and often do) in order to pressurise big business when they see bad behaviour.You mention BP.There have been numerous protests against their behaviour.When the Cambodian people have tried to involve themselves in anything similar it has resulted in repression.Similarly, through the efforts of The Burma Campaign Total have been exposed for what they are doing.The companies employing sweat shop labour in Asia have been exposed and shamed into doing something (admittedly not a huge deal) about it.Yes there is corruption in the west and downright unethical behaviour but we have active mechanisms to expose it, some of the less democratic countries in Asia don't.
    I hope you are right and the Bokor development creates wealth and jobs for the ordinary Cambodian people.
    ...but I'm not holding my breath.
    My apologies that this thread has gone a little off thread.

    #15 Posted: 10/8/2010 - 14:28

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
    17th December, 2009
    Posts: 771

    ok sayadian,
    good to hear.
    I guess I'm a little bit more positive. I've also worked in Africa for a few years and saw how people in the end found a balance between development/tourism and nature preservation. It went with ups and downs but in the end they got it right at least according to the majority (there will always be unhappy people).

    As for the protests in western countries. In my opinion there are very few results. It may have been exposed but what has truly changed?

    Now I will let it rest for the sake of this topic. For all we know we may have scared off some happy travellers wanting to go to Cambodia.

    If you read this: "Do enjoy Cambodia!". Bokor is currently closed but at times accessible to tourists. It's very erratic and I guess it depends on what they do on the road whether you can pass or not. I give it another year (my best guess) until they will really start trucking in construction material for the main site.

    #16 Posted: 10/8/2010 - 15:51

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6256
    Total reviews: 10

    Before we're too hard on the Cambodian government, I suggest we remmember where Cambodia has come from. 15 years ago it's infrastructure was a total disaster, the economy a shambles, millions dead and millions more destitute. Under those circumstances, a job of crass expoitation looks damn good. Cambodia is developing infrastructure it desperately needs. Any critique has to be viewed in that light.

    #17 Posted: 12/8/2010 - 00:50

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    Wow, an apologist for Hun Sen.
    Madmac
    Europe 1945 would have fitted your description too but non of the European countries ended up with a Hun Sen.Ok there were dictatorships like Spain and the good old USSR but they were already well established.
    The other point is most if not all the money to reconstruct Cambodia came from western donor nations.I don't know about you but it bothers me to see my taxes going on keeping a ruling elite in luxury cars when the money could be spent better.I suggest you go visit Cambodia and ask the people what they think of their government.

    #18 Posted: 12/8/2010 - 14:24

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    By the way,question for someone.
    I wonder if there is any way of trekking up Bokor with a guide or is it too heavily mined?

    #19 Posted: 12/8/2010 - 14:28

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6256
    Total reviews: 10

    Actually, I can't stand Hun Sen. But good governance doesn't come easily. And Cambodia's intellectual core was completely destroyed by the psychotic KR. So for them it's going to come very slowly indeed. Several generations at least. Look at places like Kenya and Ethiopia and the challenges they have with good governance and you get an idea how long it's going to take Cambodia (although at least they have a pretty homogenous population - which neither Kenya nor Ethiopia has).

    Europe after WW II got (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria) Soviet Communism with the friendly Russians sending in tanks to help if there were any problems, Tito, who manage to prevent the various ethnic groups from killing each other by doing it for them, France - talk about a split personality, and Germany which got generous aid via the Marshal plan and still took about 15 years to really get on its feet. Germany had a huge advantage in terms of educated populace, culture of industrial economy, and a big brother (the USA) to provide protection from the friendly Soviets... Europe post WW II just isn't comparable to Cambodia post KR.

    #20 Posted: 12/8/2010 - 19:38

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