Bokor Hill Station
Bokor Hill Station is a very eerie place. It is situated at the top of a jungle-clad mountain. It is permanently shrouded in a dense, impenetrable mist which gives the whole place a hopeless, otherwordly feel. Cambodians usually give Bokor a wide berth and believe it is cursed.The hill station was built during the French colonial era in Cambodia, an emulation of the great hill stations of British India such as Shimla and Ooty. It was supposed to be a place where French colonial administrators and military officers could escape the relentless summer heat of the Cambodian lowlands and relax in European-style comfort. It was an ambitious project which was beset with bad luck from the start. It is thought that around 1,000 Cambodian labourers died during its construction.
The heyday of Bokor Hill Station was between the 1920s-1940s, when it was a place of hedonistic abandon, complete with hotels, bars, casinos and ballrooms, where the French could indulge themselves. When Cambodia became independent in 1953, Bokor was abandoned. It was left to decay and the buildings became shells of their former selves, covered by a thick layer of red lichen. Bokor saw importance again as a military bastion of Pol Pot’s genocidal Khmer Rouge regime – when Vietnamese and Free Khmer forces were conducting the liberation of Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge, Bokor Hill Station was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting, with much blood being shed there.Visitors have reported ghostly figures in the mist and feelings of being stalked by something unseen. Disembodied voices in both French and Khmer have also been heard, as have agonised screams. Some have even reported faint sounds of laughter and music.
By P A McHugh