Cambodia: A Great Day at Bokor Mountain

Traveling around the Bokor Mountain National Park in Kampot is great especially if you enjoy riding a motorbike. The Bokor Hill Station was established by the French in 1925, but it has since been abandoned twice during World War II and the Khmer Rouge era. Because of its ghostly ambiance, a Vietnamese horror movie called City of Ghosts by famous Matt Dillon was filmed there.

Beautiful Bokor.

Beautiful Bokor.

Indeed, for us, it was a beautiful ride with awesome nature as we explored the area by motorbike. Plus, it was so easy to go up the hill because they built wonderful, long, smooth sweeping curve tar roads. It took us about 4 hours to go around and see all the attractions.

Riding a motorbike made our entire trip worthwhile. ūüôā

Here are the things you can see at the top of the mountain and some information I collected during our trip:

The Old Catholic church
It was built by the French in 1920’s. The architecture of the building is magnificent. I was told that the Vietnamese Forces was trying to get control of this area. When we went there, we couldn’t go into the church as it was being refurbished, but we had a great time exploring every nook and cranny. My favorite hill was the hill next to the old Catholic church because of the stunning view. If you wish to go there you can park on the side of the road and then walk up to the top.

The old Catholic Church - French influence

The old Catholic Church – French influence

An abandoned old casino
Originally, it was called Le Bokor Palace Hotel and Casino. It was also built by the French colonials in 1925 and it used to be a base for the Khmer Rouge. The view from the back of the building is great, especially if you go all the way up to the top of the building as you can see the clouds roll over the mountain. This place is great to walk around if you love nature and old buildings.

The old casino.

The old casino.

The new Lok Yeay Mao Monument
This huge monument was built in 2010 and it is about 29 meters tall. Lok Yeay Mao is considered by many Cambodians as a protector spirit of travelers. You can see the same monument at the Kep Beach where she is looking to the west and is waiting for her husband who did not return. You can’t miss this statue as you can see it on the way up.

Little Lilly and the gigantic Lok Yeay Mao Monument.

Little Lilly and the gigantic Lok Yeay Mao Monument.

The Popokvil Waterfall
When we were exploring the area, the waterfall was dry as it was summertime, so we couldn’t appreciate the real beauty of it. The best time to see the waterfall is during the rainy season, from May to October.

Wonderful view.

Thansur Bokor Hotel
It is a 5-star hotel and the only resort on top of the mountain.

The building at the background is Thansur Bokor Highland Resort.

Apparently, Bokor Mountain is becoming to be a famous and special recreation place in Kampot. If you are looking for natural beauty and a great ride in the country, this place is right for you.

Little Lilly Travel Tip:

  • Bring a light jacket because it is about 15 degrees cooler up the mountain than in Kampot.
  • Be careful when driving as it gets foggy during the day.
  • Ride a motorbike if you know or get someone else to ride if you can‚Äôt ride. Don‚Äôt take a car or bus.
  • Don‚Äôt worry about getting lost, as there are only 2 roads in and 2 roads out and a big loop in the middle that keeps taking you back to the new casino. Just take your time and enjoy exploring the place.
  • If you need a restroom, you can find it near the waterfall area.
  • If you run out of petrol, you can get some near the new monument area.

Have you been to Bokor Mountain? What did you like best about the mountain?

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Cambodia: Nice Getaway in Koh Russei Island

While we were in Sihanoukville, we went to Koh Russei Island just for a day trip. It is a small island also known as Bamboo Island or Koh Ru Island.

Koh Russei Island

Koh Russei Island

From Ochheuteal Beach Resort, we took a private boat and it took us about an hour to go to the island. The part of the island where we were dropped by the boat was untidy, but the beach on the other side of the island was clean, tranquil, with white sand and clear turquoise water. From the landing area, we trekked for 15 minutes through the jungle and we reached the other side of the island, which was beautiful.

The landing area.

The landing area.

In the middle of the jungle.

In the middle of the jungle.

While most tourists enjoyed swimming, snorkeling and hanging out and meeting people at the restaurant, we spent our day lazying, sunbathing, reading a book while drinking a beer, and just simply enjoying the beautiful nature while we were in the island. I liked the environment there and there was plenty of space to be alone and have privacy. I hope that this natural beauty will remain protected.

Beautiful Island

Beautiful Island

There are available budget beach bungalows, dorm beds, hammocks, mosquito nets, sleeping bags and mats for rent on the beach if you wish to spend a couple of days on the island.

Another view of the island.

Another view of the island.

I would say¬†that¬†it‚Äôs worth the cheap journey just to get away from the crowded beaches elsewhere even if it‚Äôs just for a day. So, if¬†you’re looking for¬†just a short escape¬†for a few days to relax, read some books and meet some new people, this is the perfect place for you.

Little Lilly Travel Tip:

  • Bring mosquito repellents especially if you wish to stay there overnight or for a few days.
  • Bring loads of sunscreen.
  • Bring enough cash as there‚Äôs no ATM machine in the island.

Vietnam: The Presidential Palace Complex in Hanoi

While in Hanoi City, we checked out the Presidential Palace. To me, it is a great place to visit and to learn more about Ho Chi Minh and his life stories.

The Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace

Ho Chi Minh was a simple man and by choice had a limited amount of possession. He was a Vietnamese communist revolutionary leader who became the prime minister from 1945 to 1955 and president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam from 1945 to 1969. He was also known as a key figure in the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 in the People’s Army of Vietnam and in the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.

These were the things we saw inside Presidential Palace complex:

1. A bright yellow building that is known as the Presidential Palace, originally the French Indochina Governor-General’s Palace, which we were not allowed to enter, but we could take pictures from the outside. It was built by the French in the early 1900s as the residence of the Governor of French Indochina and to serve as a reminder to the Vietnamese that the French were their rulers. When the French were beaten at Dien Bien Phu, the palace was given to Ho Chi Minh to live in but Ho Chi Minh refused to stay there and opted for a much a simpler house on the palace grounds. The palace looked very grand from the outside and it is surrounded by a very well-manicured garden and landscape. Until now, it continues to be used for official state functions.

2. The beautiful path lined with mango orchards where President Ho Chi Minh used to walk and do morning exercises.

3. The garage that held three cars. I learned that these automobiles: a 1954 Russian Zis, a 1955 Russian Pobeda, and a 1964 Peugeot 404, were gifts from the Americans and Russians and were used by President Ho Chi Minh.

The garage.

The garage.

4. The house of 54 where President Ho Chi Minh moved in in 1954; however he only stayed there for 4 years until his stilt house was built.

The house of 54

The house of 54

5. The stilt house. This humble home was made of wood and was built by Ho Chi Minh in 1958. He lived in there as soon as it was finished, until he died in 1968, it was a symbol of his solidarity with the Vietnamese people. The house consists of a bedroom, a meeting room, a dining room, a reading room with a writing table and many books, and underneath the house was a sort of an open-air conference room. I also noticed some few interesting artifacts such as an iron helmet and telephones used during wartime. It is quite big and nice, but I did not notice any bathroom on the stilt house. I observed the strong influence of both Lenin and Marx in almost all the rooms.

Inside the stilt house.

Inside the stilt house.

6. The Uncle Ho’s Fishpond. I heard that Ho Chi Minh used to meditate around the lake and feed the fishes. I saw some Cypress tree’s roots along this charming pond. It really was quite beautiful and offered a magnificent respite away from the noise in the city.

The Buddha or Cypress tree's roots along the pond.

The Buddha or Cypress tree’s roots along the pond.

I would say that we had a wonderful and pleasant visit to the Presidential Palace complex. It was very interesting to see the humble homes where Ho Chi Minh lived. Most importantly, we had great insights about the history of that time and about the life lead by Ho Chi Minh.

Little Lilly Travel Tip:

  • Make¬†sure you wear¬†decent clothes like a pair of¬†trousers and a top¬†with sleeves otherwise the security won‚Äôt let you in.
  • The visit takes about an hour or two.