At 8am, standing at the foot of Bokor Hill, we were already sweating buckets, not a good sign considering we had a 2.5 hour hike ahead of us. The previous night's thunderstorm left the air full of moisture, even though the temperature itself was quite pleasant. At our first water break the other American in the tour group, Ali-Ï'm from Philly but live in Seattle"- made us play the name game. The group consisted of Danny, who proved to be our useless guide, a young dutch coupe, an oder French coupe, an engaged British and Scottish pair, 3 teenage British boys, a solo Dutch guy with a love of insects, and a Spaniard named Roberto. We began complaining in unison as the trail turned vertical through a muddy, jungley landscape. We complained until we heard that a Hong Kong woman was attending the ascent in flip flops. When we saw her approach at our second water break Mason and I could not hold in the giggles- nor could the other 20 people gathered there. It wasn't just the flip flops, it was the fact that she was wearing a floral sarong as a dress, tied around her neck, with a fanny pack around her waist. Clearly no one told her this wasn't going to be a day at the beach.
In 2.5 hours we ascended 1km, where the "bus"waiting to take us the remaining 30km turned out ot be a construction site dump truck. all 15 of us piled into the bed, including the Äk-47 toting "park ranger" who was there to "protect"us. The most uncomfortable hour of my life then ensued. we were bounced and jostled into each other's mud-covered shoes and the metal railing, all the way up to Bokor Hill Station. The station is the site of the abandoned Bokor Hill Palace, a casino/hotel, destroyed in the 1970s by the Khmer Rouge due to the fact that is was a bourgeoisie symbol. A new hotel/casino is underway, funded by a Cambodian company. by the looks of the artist's drawing the place will rival any in Vegas. The Palace ruins were amazingly creepy, covered with orange lichen and shrouded in fog. gass shards still hang from the window panes and the ceiling is caving in. great place to take photos. just as we were beginning to recover from the trip up and enjoy the company of our group members, we had to begin the brutal journey in reverse. All in all worth the $23? Not so much.