Category Archives: Video

Black Palace

“Black Palace” (Damnak Sla Khmao) was a little summer palace of King Sihanouk, abandoned sometime in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. It’s located on Bokor Hill Station in southern Cambodia. The “Palace” itself is not on a grand scale, but the overall spectacular location and many outer buildings must have been fairly impressive in its day.

The hill station was built as a resort by colonial French settlers as an escape from the heat, humidity and general insalubrity of Phnom Penh. Nine hundred lives were lost in the nine months during the construction of the resort in this remote mountain location.

The centrepiece of the resort was the grand Bokor Palace Hotel (which has never been a casino) inaugurated in 1925. See previous video- “Casino Rouge”. It was used as the location for the final showdown of the excellent Matt Dillon 2002 movie, “City Of Ghosts”.

Bokor Hill was abandoned first by the French in late 1940s, during the First Indochina War, because of local insurrections guided by the Khmer Issarak. It was only in 1962, for the reopening of the “Cité du Bokor”, that a casino was established in the new hotels near the lake, (Hotels Sangkum and Kiri). Some buildings were added at this time: an annex for the palace, the mayor’s office and a strange mushroomed concrete parasol.

The Bokor mountain was abandoned again in 1972, as Khmer Rouge took over the area. During the Vietnamese invasion in 1979, Khmer Rouge entrenched themselves and held on tightly for months. In the 1990s Bokor Hill was still one of the last strongholds of Khmer Rouge.

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Casino Rouge

Exploring the ruin of the French colonial era Bokor Casino Hotel in Cambodia recently. The Casino was fought over by the invading/liberating Vietnamese army and the murderous Khmer Rouge from 1979 onwards. Due to it’s strategic place and size on Bokor plateau it was invaluable to either side to gain an advantage over the other. In recent years it has been cleaned up and somewhat structurally improved- unfortunately removing most of its neglected charm, tragedy and history in the process.

Church : Time

Exploring the abandoned former French colonial era church on Bokor Mountain in Cambodia recently. In 1978 the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia, toppling the murderous Khmer Rouge in a matter of weeks. There was however a stalemate for a time on Bokor (and other locations) as the Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge battled it out- fighting between the church and nearby casino. In recent years the church has had occasional use- it’s first in nearly four decades. “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…”

Nokor

Not your usual urbex video, but exploring ruins nonetheless. This is the strange fusion temple complex of Banteay Prey Nokor in Cambodia that we visited late last year. Situated in countryside near the town of Kompong Cham, the original 11th century Mahayana Buddhist shrine has been added onto over the centuries and incorporated into a bewildering and sprawling complex of wat’s and stupa’s. Apart from a security guard and a couple of monks we had the place to ourselves. More to come from Cambodia soon…

In Tandom

https://vimeo.com/152386215

The tanning of leather for footwear production in New Zealand was, until the mid 1980’s, protected by tariffs which raised the price of imported footwear. Global trade pressure prevailed, however, and the 1990’s saw New Zealand tanneries shift to selling at international leather fairs, with China and the United States becoming the most significant markets. The global financial crisis of 2008/9 and subsequent instability has seen consumers buying fewer leather-clad pieces of furniture, and making their footwear last longer. This tannery seems to have succumbed under the pressure, along with other similar facilities throughout New Zealand and Australia. Shot and edited in 1080p full HD by Gunner.

’97 was Excellent

https://vimeo.com/152234934

1997 may have been “excellent”, but by 1998 the last resident at this psychiatric hospital which had operated since 1912 had been moved out to community care in a process known as deinstitutionalisation. When the hospital was at its peak, it held over one thousand patients and operated its own farm, bakery, laundry and clothes-making facilities. For many, admittance into the hospital was lifelong, as evidenced by an onsite graveyard containing the remains of 500 patients who passed away prior to 1969. Shot and edited in 1080p full HD by Gunner.

Top Level Meeting

https://vimeo.com/152040496

With abandonment comes a kind of anarchic freedom. While much of the grandeur of the former socialist meeting house at Buzludzha, Bulgaria has been lost to decay, theft, recycling and vandalism, the views from the top of the tower remain, magnificent. Shot and edited in 4K ultra high resolution by Gunner.