Modernist Ruin and Renovation

Kep, Cambodia was a stylish seaside resort for French colonialists in the mid 20th century. From the New York Times – “… the French colonialists established a beach retreat during their rule here in the first half of the 20th century. They built mansions on the hillsides to catch the gulf breezes, and as in Sihanoukville, the villas’ skeletal remains and shot-up facades are an eerie reminder of the past. Those houses are now being turned into luxury residences and hotels, and new compounds like the colonial La Villa de Monsieur Thomas and the modernist Knai Bang Chatt demonstrate what the future of high-end tourism on the Cambodian coast might look like.”

In December of 2009, our local guide took us on a tour of the “ghost town” of mansions, including a former Prince’s home where we paid a few dollars to walk through the entire house. The remaining structures are impressive and hint at a formidable colonial grandeur to the resort. The ruins also symbolize the scars of French colonialism and American imperialism.

A few images of Knai Bang Chatt, one of nicest hotels we stayed in Southeast Asia …