Impressed by the solemn, haunting beauty of the Bokor ruins while watching Matt Dillon’s “City of Ghosts” in 2002, I decided to return to Cambodia to photograph the French Colonial ruins at the Bokor Hill Station, and the abandoned mansions along the coast road near the town of Kep.
I used the charming Bokor Lodge, formerly the Foreign Correspondents Club, in Kampot, as home base for my explorations, and hired local guides to help me find and visit these destinations. […]
The ride up the mountain to Bokor was about 3 hours, on some of the worst roads with huge potholes and erosion I’ve ever seen. We left at dawn, so that I would have as many hours of daylight as possible to photograph, although we also had to allow enough time to get back down safely before complete darkness.
Arriving at last at the main Hotel building, the former grandeur and present dark atmosphere were a heady mix to behold. Having seen vintage images of the resort during its heyday with expensive automobiles and well-dressed French colonialists outside the front door, it’s quite a different feeling to see the decay, entropy and misuse that are the current condition of this formerly majestic complex.
There have been rumors for several years that the Bokor Hill resort (and hopefully the access road) may be rebuilt and re-opened as a modern-day luxury destination, reliving its former glory.
If this is done in a way that can benefit the local population and the Cambodian people in general, then perhaps the evolution of this unique location can become something positive in the lives of the locals, rather than remaining a silent witness to more painful times in the history of the land.
Eric Alan Pritchard
Eric Alan Pritchard, a fine art photographer for over 20 years, began with traditional landscape genres and travel documentary in his early career. Eric has gone on to develop a unique approach to nudes and organic objects, evolving his style into one of delicate shapes and spare, luminous abstractions. By contrast, Eric’s richly detailed photographs from Angkor Wat in Cambodia reveal with a dark glow the tangled layers and textures that are the embodiment of mystery in that sacred location. Also rich in darkness and detail are Eric’s images of the French colonial ruins of the Bokor Hill Station and coastal mansions of Kep in Cambodia. After many years of shooting exclusively black and white, Eric began to work in color again on the waters of southern Thailand in 2004, and more recently he has been exploring a form of reductive minimalism in his photographs of the horizon, made at his beachfront home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Finally, spanning a variety of years and styles is Eric’s commitment to documenting large trees throughout California and around the world, as these giant living things embody both the beauty of nature and the fragile balance between man and Earth.