detour

bokor national park has
a resort at its summit now
a casino, restaurant and
four-hundred-room hotel
located at the end of a paved road
that takes less than an hour to travel
from entrance to mountain plateau
and is traversed twice daily by buses
from both phnom penh
and kampong saom

ten years ago
the only shelter
were tents brought by campers
or bunk beds in a
dilapidated rangers station
the only food
cup noodles sold by those rangers
to young travelers naive enough
to venture into the wilds with only
oranges, candy, and pringles
and the drive up
took two hours
on a road returned to dirt and gravel
where the frequent stops
to navigate around fallen trees or
to take photos of colorful flowers or
to gather giant seed pods
were just as memorable
as the views from the top
of low lying clouds
verdant valleys
and clear coastlines

i’m glad we went there
on my cousin’s whim
a car full of teens
and twenty-somethings
drawn by rumors
of an active casino
that turned out to be
a haunting rust and black stained
shell of a building
standing in a sea of knee-high grass
and by promises
of local delicacies
that ended up being served
after a three minute wait
in paper cups, but with a view
of the gulf of thailand

i’m glad i went there expecting
the amenities of a resort
but left, having experienced
the stark beauty of land
reclaimed by nature

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