Kien Svay WaterparkJuly 2, 2008
Out to Kien Svay for the first time in quite a while, I kept looking for the giant spires of the unfinished pagoda that had taken ten or more years to construct. I never spotted it, just the usual places that sell life-sized concrete exotic creatures.
I’d been at the waterpark a few years back, and it seemed a nice enough spot, so when someone suggested going out there on a recent Sunday I dragged myself out and we all met in Kandal Province an hour or two later. The “Sontheipeap Waterpark” sign marking the turn off is about 3.4 kilometres past the Monivong Bridge on the left on Highway 2. From there it’s a kilometre or so of rough track, past a few empty lots, and some villas and farms, but mainly trees. Huge plans for this area I’m sure but right now it’s still relatively untouched countryside.
Quite unlike the other waterpark on the airport road, this one is in a completely rural setting. It seems to have been fitted in around an existing fruit orchard, and there are lots of durians and other exotic fruits hanging off the trees with “Do Not Pick” signs nearby. Looking out from the perimeter of the raised ground all you can see are paddy fields and trees, quite pleasant really. There’s a cool breeze that blows in from the surrounding fields, it’s a rustic enough place to while away an afternoon, with almost zero chance of running into Frenchmen.
While the other waterpark is fairly modern, this place is a bit unkempt. It seems that whoever cleans the place keeps the concrete areas scrupulously clean, while the grassy areas are covered in garbage. The slides are fairly regular, nothing spectacular but still fun. There is one big tower with three straight chutes and one curly one which is completely dark inside. There are a few smaller kiddy sized slides in a different pool, and there’s a rope slide sort of thing coming off a tower into the water. The problem is, probably to cut down on drowning incidents or save on water bills or something, the pools are all less than a meter deep. If I’m going to drop into water I prefer it a bit deeper but it doesn’t seem to bother the teenagers doing somersaults into it. It’s fine for frolicking and splashing about in but not so good for any proper swimming.
The seating area is similar to that found in many holiday spots here, with good awnings and large wooden platforms, all sheltered from the sun by mature fruit trees. You can order a fairly wide selection of food, the usual rice, whole roast fish, tough chicken, papaya salad etc, or just bring your own, or a bit of both. There’s no problem with bringing along a slab of beer either. It’s never too busy so you can just move to the next platform when the first one gets too messy. You can set up a hammock or whatever, that sort of style.
While we went out there in a tuk-tuk, quite a few friends came along on their own transport, and one gave us a lift back in a more comfortable Land Cruiser. On the return I asked about the giant cathedral-like pagoda that had taken so much time and energy to build. They told me, but as we passed by the place where the giant concrete dragons with steps for tongues used to face the road, with the much bigger structure behind, it was pretty obvious. It’s gone. You would never even know it had been there. The place did look a bit crazy anyway, like one of those weird things in Watts Towers. It seemed they didn’t really know what direction the place was going in so they just started adding turrets and things on. Back to the city anyway, away from all the cows and mud and stuff. I like the countryside, but I wouldn’t want to live there.