Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sihanouk gutted

The curved entranceway of Sihanouk's Black Tiger Palace on Bokor
If he saw it now, Norodom Sihanouk would be gutted about his gutted Black Tiger Palace. Approximately ten kilometres from the summit of the mountain are three buildings that would've been off-limits to most people visiting Bokor, as it was Prince Sihanouk's private villa overlooking the Gulf of Thailand during the swinging 1960s. Today every Tom, Dick & Harry can wander through the shells of the buildings that show just small hints of their former grandeur and contain far more graffiti, orange-red lichen and undergrowth than is good for them. There's an elaborate pediment-style carving above the main door of the villa and as you walk through the ransacked building you are struck by the gorgeous views from the windows and then the balcony before the mountainside falls sharply in front of you. Fifty yards away are two more buildings, one of which was the dining room and kitchen for the King's staff and another was a fancy tiled affair which was allegedly the quarters of the royal concubines or mistresses. There's also an overgrown WC which may've been the royal loo! Your guess is as good as mine. It's an interesting pause on the way to the top of Bokor and is about 1,000 metres up. Our group had walked the final 500 metres along the new road after our forest hike for an hour. We climbed back on board the pick-up to carry onto the Ranger Station at the summit, arriving just after mid-day. More to follow.
The royal villa's impressive pediment-style entranceway
The villa's windows look out over the Gulf of Thailand
The view from the balcony and that's Phu Quoc island in front of you
The rear of the royal villa looking out over the mountainside
The orange-red lichen-covered Black Tiger Palace
Inside the kitchen area of the separate dining room and servants quarters
The empty shell of the dining room that belonged to the Black Tiger Palace
Graffiti artists really have too much time on their hands!
The overgrown house of the cocubines is distinctively tiled throughout


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