My Favorite Place in Cambodia: Kirirom National Park
That’s a big statement, particularly for a national park so often characterized by foreigners (expat and travelers alike) as “ruined” by the unrestrained commercialism and rampant garbage around its main waterfall attraction (more like a slightly descending trickle of water).
However, I am fine with this. It means that I have the other 800+ acres of Cambodia’s first national park largely to myself. In addition to serving as an accessible escape from the suffocating heat of Phnom Penh (only 1.5 hours away), Kirirom offers some stellar mountain biking and, so I am told, bouldering. There are countless trails winding every which way – north through the Southern Cardamoms, east toward Cambodia’s highest peak (Phnom Aoral), and west toward the Elephant Mountains (a ride Steve and I barely managed to complete back in May 2010). Birds, squirrels and Buddhist monks saunter around the lake at the top of the mountain, setting the scene for a peaceful campsite at the end of a day exploring various trails.
Simply put – when I lived in Cambodia, it was the place I went to recharge my batteries and enjoy nature with friends. And I reckon it will always have a spot on my itinerary when I return to Cambodia for an extended visit, far above another trip around Angkor Wat.
GPS coordinates for the “Kirirom Backdoor” here: http://www.virgintrails.com/2010/10/15/kirirom-back-door/