A wedding without guests you say? well here’s my interpretation of just that.
During our stay in Kampot, Cambodia, we rented a motorbike and hopped up the picturesque twisty mountain-jungle road to Bokor Hill Station, 50km north-east of the town.
The Bokor Palace Hotel & Casino, church and other small buildings were built by the French in 1921. High at the top of the 3,500ft mountains, the construction took 9 months and claimed over 900 lives, due to the difficult location. The French had taken a fancy to Cambodia in the mid-1800s, and eventually took over the country. However, the hot climate wasn’t always to their fancy, hence the solution of building Bokor Hill in the cool temperatures and pleasant breezes of the mountain.
The area was first abandoned in the late 1940s due to war, then for good in the 1970s when the Khmer Rouge took over the area. Despite the Khmer Rouge being kicked from power in 1979 by the Vietnamese, guerrilla groups from the Khmer Rouge held out in the abandoned buildings as late as the early 1990s.
The complex now stands abandoned at the top of the hill, with a bored-looking security guard and a handful of tourists poking round. On our visit we had the Hotel & Casino to ourselves for around an hour. The main room of the hotel had clearly recently been used for a function a wedding, such a spectacular setting as you’ll see. An empty stage, colourful drapes and potted plants remained, all blowing in the strong winds which rip through the windowless property. These were a sharp contrast to the stark, concrete shell of the building. The house and church next door (also abandoned) reminded me of working a wedding day – preparations in the house, service in the church and celebrations in the Hotel & Casino.