Pine cones exist in Cambodia. Yes, there are indeed conifers only 11 degrees north of the equator. As well as temperatures that go so low that you might want to wear a toque. Basically, the little things that would make happy any Canuck that finds themselves in tropical climes.
And it’s only 91km away from Phnom Penh.
So seeking a little solace and calm outside this busy bee of a city, my man and I hopped on his black 1100cc cruiser and headed out and up to get a breath of fresh air. With the new developments happening on the mountain (read more about that here), we decided to plant our tired butts down at scenic Kirirom Mountain Lodge; Alexis de Sureiman’s newest among his family of boutique hotels that he’s developed from colonial buildings in Cambodia, saving them from destruction.
After paying the 5 USD entrance fee to Kirirom National Park and riding about 20km up the mountain, we found ourselves facing a massive sign that would lead us up a bumpy road to the lodge. We parked our bike at what seemed like the top of a cliff and were greeted by freshly white washed villas built in the style of New Khmer Architecture. The loud grumbles of our bike also alerted the lodge’s general manager, Rhelimi Bouchaib, down to bound down the property’s staircase with big smile and hippie sensibilities.
Our room (superior double, 65 USD), a simple, but well designed space, was both bright and warm with a modern (albeit tiny) bathroom and adjoining outdoor deck. The very accommodating Bouchaib informed us the electricity would only be available from 6pm-9pm, but if we would like a hot shower after our long bike ride, he’d happily turn the generator on for us. That said, we knew we wouldn’t be spending very much time in the room. It’s not exactly that kind of lodge.
After a light Mediterreanean meal cooked by Bouchaib himself and eaten outdoors facing a wide valley of pines, we parked ourselves on the main building’s rooftop veranda and whiled away the afternoon reading, enjoying the perfectly crisp 20°C.
And the silence. Only the birds chirping and other sounds that nature is said to make. The sound of air moving through trees. I don’t think I’ve heard anything with the background of construction or traffic in the past few months. This may have been the most shocking revelation and luxury. The sunset over the Cardamom Mountains weren’t bad either.
So if you are looking for a quiet getaway that’s not too far from the city, Kirirom Mountain Lodge is your deal. I would pretty much give anything to be back up there with the moderate temps, fresh air and abundant silence. You could choose the slightly lazier path we took of reading while sprawled on the comfy cushions of the lodge’s rooftop. Or if outdoor activity is your thing, hiking paths surround the property, which also has a collection of quality mountain bikes for rent (10 USD/hour).
To get to Kirirom National Park, located in Kampong Speu province, drive down National Road 4, towards Sihanoukville and look for the appropriate signs about 87km outside of Phnom Penh.
All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.