Kirirom National Park

Posted on: June 15, 2007

Vendor Area

Vendor area of Kirirrom Park There are few signs in the national park, and those that do exist are only in Khmer so it is not easy to get around unless you speak Khmer and are able to ask many times where you are and where different sites are. The center of traffic in the park is this vendor area, a sort of crossroads.
A vendor in the park As we tried to find out directions to various sites within the park, we bought some snacks from this woman: rice, jackfruit, and coconut wrapped in a banana leaf and roasted on the little grill to her left. The large green objects on the platform are jackfruit.
A stuffed goat and sun bear The development of the vendor area is underway, and one of its future attractions will be this display with a stuffed mountain goat and a sun bear, one of two species of bear within the park. The case is barely big enough for one of the animals, and they are already starting to disintegrate because the case is not sealed.


Picnic area near Waterfall #1 The vendor area is located near Waterfall #1, and many park patrons buy food from the vendor stalls and take it to these small shelters spaced along the stream that creates Waterfall #1. Most American picnickers would consider the surrounding shelters too close for comfort, but for Asians who tend to favor community and rarely experience being alone, having another group immediately on either side is no problem at all.
Kirirom Waterfall #1 Various friends had spoken in glowing terms of the three waterfalls of Kirirom park. We went only to Waterfall #1 (not a very captivating name!) but it was lacking something–water. In the present dry season, the water flow was only a trickle. The whole setting of the stream and fall (actually more of a rapids here) made us want to return in the rainy season, though.
Small lake above Waterfall #1 More impressive at this time than the waterfall was the small lake located above it. The water is tea-colored, from the minerals in the soil, we learned. It was quite a peaceful and serene sight although it may have a different appearance when hundreds of picknickers are about.
Dugout boat made from palm tree This small dugout rested at the edge of the lake. It is made from the bottom end of a palm tree trunk. The palm tree is a very valuable and useful part of the environment in the area. The palm nuts give oil for cooking; the palm fronds make thatched roofs and walls; and the tree trunks become dugout boats and firewood.

Various Thing

Pine tree sprout in burned area This is a pine tree seedling that survived when a section of the Kirirom forest was burned. We saw quite a few fires burning during the hours we were walking, and at the information center we read that the fires are intentionally set so that grazing wild animals are forced out into the open where they are easier targets, or else those who set the fires want to claim the land although it’s government land in a park.

Visitors Center

Kathy Kremer at Kirirom Visitors Center The Kirirom National Park, whose official name is Preah Suramarith Kossmak, is about 80,000 acres of forested land on a rare plateau in southwestern Cambodia. The elevation is about 2,200 feet, high enough to support a large pine forest quite distinct from most of the country’s tropical jungle. Our last stop in the park was a newly renovated visitors center which was small but quite impressive.
Displays at the Visitors Center The visitors center has some really attractive displays although there are too many for such a small space. Still it was refreshing to see such high standards applied to the center. Especially rewarding was meeting the woman in the picture, the manager of the center, who obviously was proud of her country, her park, and her job representing it to the public.
Ruins of the king's house in the park Next to the visitors center are the ruins of a large old mansion. Pictured here is a tall, multi-part chimney on a foundation surrounded by a wooden deck that is falling dangerously apart. The house was a hot-season estate of Cambodia’s King Sihanouk but it was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge who were not finally driven out of this area until 1992.

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June 2007

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