These are just some of the ghost villas of Kep. Kep, in its heydays, was once a favourite holiday town of the French colonial masters and the Cambodian elites.
The villas fell into ruin during the 70s when the Khmer Rouge took over and systematically burned and destroyed all the villas and murdered its occupants. This is probably what the Khmer Rouge meant when they declared Year Zero. At present, some of the villas are occupied but most are abandoned and lying in ruins. Vegetation has set in covering the remnants but one can still see the grandiose details of the villas alongside bullet holes and burn marks. The villas are but mere reminders of the golden days of Kep, and, ironically, of the cruelty of the Khmer Rouge regime that ravaged the entire country.
The first time I visited Kep was in 2002 and the sight of these decaying villas gave me shivers. To me, Kep, then, had a ghost-town feel to it. These days, however, Kep is undergoing a massive transformation. The once thick jungle is now slowly vanishing to give way to numerous constructions (hotels, bars, restaurants); villas being snapped up by local and foreign businessmen to refurbish into tourist accommodations, all in the name of “touristic revival”.
Oh, how I hate to see Kep transform into something like Sihanoukville.
P.S. Some scenes of the movie, City of Ghosts, which starred Matt Dillon, James Caan, and Gerard Depardieu, was shot in Kep.