Late last year we explored the abandoned waterpark “Ho Thuy Tien” near Hue, Vietnam. This place has been fairly well documented by UE and backpackers before, so to mix things up a bit we decided to predominately explore the park via bicycle- and we’re talking about the old school one speed bicycle variety with a basket on the handle bars.
It took 30-40 minutes in the heat & humidity to bike there from Hue city, courtesy of Google Maps. At the main gate we were surprisingly waved through by a guard. We were expecting a “fee” like all other locals and visitors alike. Perhaps he felt because we’d biked all the way out there we deserved the “free” entry- what ever the case it was good karma. Locals we spoke to later just could not believe we’d been given “free” entry.
Closed a decade ago- probably because of the high priced tickets and lack of attractions- the park has over the years become a hang out for local youth, urban explorers, backpackers, and on weekends (in this case) a bus load of students. Apart from getting the neck slit gesture after outstaying our welcome at some local lads bbq on top of the waterslide section- it was a safe and surreal experience- and then we had to bike all the way back to town…
“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.
Filmed in late 2011- this was the final days of the old Hawera Hospital (1925-2012). Demolition was already well underway on the South Taranaki Hospital, with at least half the complex already gone. A compact digital camera was rigged onto the hot-shoe of a DSLR to capture on video the state the place and what was being photographed- plenty of shaky camera footage ensued. Abandoned in 2002, the hospital’s state of decline over the next decade was dramatic and completely unnecessary. It wasn’t a pretty explore- a bleak and hazardous environment, the complete opposite of what a hospital is supposed to be about- inhospitable.
This former quarantine station was first opened in 1872 for people arriving New Zealand with contagious diseases. The facilities were refurbished and extended in 1918-19 and were maintained in readiness until World War II (1939-45) but were little used. The accommodation blocks were used in both World War I and World War II to house interned “enemy aliens”. For over 100 years, beginning in the early 1880s, it also served as an animal quarantine station. Animals arriving in New Zealand from other countries were quarantined on the island for 30–60 days to check they were free of disease. Blood samples were taken regularly and tested. Each animal was also treated for internal and external parasites.
In 1971 this particular facility, a maximum security animal quarantine station was completed. Until then, New Zealand had only ever imported livestock from Britain, Australia and Canada. The idea of a maximum security animal station was to enable scientists and geneticists to study new exotic breeds from outside of these ‘safe’ countries. When the station received its first shipment of animals in March 1972, it was the most sophisticated facility of its kind in the world. This allowed for the importation of a more diverse range of exotic animals such as elk, red deer, alpaca and llama, and capacity to hold more of the traditional imported livestock. In 1985 a scheme was introduced to import ova and embryos of cattle, sheep, and goats for implantation into New Zealand livestock. This inadvertently lessened the need for quarantine stations. It meant that existing livestock lines could be diversified rather than relying on importing. The quarantine station was closed in 1995.
At the fringe of this neglected community garden area, there was a strange, landscaped new-age prayer circle thing. It wasn’t peaceful, inspirational, meditative etc… just a bit weird, kitsch, humorous, tacky and kinda creepy. The amphitheatre, inspired by something called the Vortrovia Vision, is apparently called an “Amphenium”. Wow, if it’s got a cool name like that it’s got to be pretty impressive, right? Wrong!
More quotes from the beautifully presented(sic) informational details onsite: “This local/universal, sacred/secular, aesthetic/functional built & landscaped environment, called the “Amphenium,“will serve some of the following purposes; a spiritual-cultural arts centre, a solar power generator & multi functional performance venue, a kinetic work of art and tourist attraction, a 24/7 online multi-media experience, a showcase for new environmentally friendly technology, a planetarium, a site for celebrating seasonal and astronomical events (eg. solstices/equinoxes), a sculpted park featuring medicinal flora & works of art reflecting spiritual, mythical, astrological & cosmological themes: the wellspring generator, portal to & birthplace of a sustainable new world. Access to the apex of the dome would be catered for by an egg shaped capsule. As it ascends it will revolve & open up like a flower into 8 horizontal segments.” Hmm- that’s one helluva multi-functional venue… the UFO landing dock was missing though 😉