Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Natural beauty

Apparently Bou Sra Falls, Mondulkiri are Cambodia's most famous / most spectacular. Visited in April 2006 I was impressed by the falls. Only I was more impressed (or depressed?) with the quite literally hordes of visitors. And the way they trash the place. Natural beauty no more.

Let's trash the place

Bou Sra waterfalls are 43 km from Sen Monorom, Mondulkiri province's headquarters. The latter half of the trip goes over a toll road, which is actually a piece of improved track. Funny how you can ask toll for this. There is a big car park behind the entrance ticket sales place. Elephants are also parked here and you can take a 5 minute tour of the parking area on elephant back, Heading towards the falls, there are a large number of stalls selling basically what ever. The entrance track ends on a plateau of the waterfall proper, upstream a 15 m fall, downstream a 20 m fall. On this plateau is ample space to consume whatever one had just bought, which seems the major past time.

So enough to snack on, lodging? One of Cambodia's best, the Nature Lodge is located in Sen Monorom.

A full description:
'Bou Sra waterfall is located in Pich Chenda district about 43 kilometers northeast of Mondulkiri provincial town, Sen Monorom. Busra is considered by many to be the most beautiful waterfall in Mondulkiri. The waterfall is divided into three stages:
  • First Stage: The waterfall fall is 8 to 12 meters high and 15 meters wide in rainy season and 10 to 15 meters wide in dry season.
  • Second Stage: The waterfall fall is 15 to 20 meters high and 20 meters wide in rainy season and 18 to 25 meters high and 13 meters wide in dry season. The second stage is 150 meters from the first stage.
  • Third Stage: The speed of waterfall is faster than the second stage. This stage cannot be reached because it is in the thick forest. There are no marked paths and dangerous wildlife inhabits the area'.
The second stage

Since there has been suggestion that the waterfalls will become a eco-tourism site. What that entails:
'A local Cambodian group, Sar Lar, has plans to develop a US$6m resort around this waterfall to entice more tourists to the isolated province. It has a 99 year lease from the government to build motels, restaurants, souvenir shops, cable cars and cottages. It has assured nearby villagers that the 5 year project will not be disruptive to the environment as no forests are to be cut down for the development'.
Well, that certainly will enhance the area.
Some have their doubts:
'don't sound altogether eco-friendly to me'.
Well but is it worth it? Well, the falls are certainly spectacular, just avoid holidays and weekends. Also don't count on natural beauty.

Ethnic Chic?
Just another gimmick for tourists: dress up as a local (used to).

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