Black Pepper Resort in Siem Reap, Cambodia – Where nature becomes personal
Website: Black River Resort
Black Pepper is located ~15km outside the city of Siem Reap, one turn off RD6 heading towards Thailand from Siem Reap (before Puok).
PHONE: +855 071 14 67 7739
HOSTS: Sarith Ou, Daryna Ou, Chey Oeur, Brent Gerlach
CREDITS: Mural Artist, Tamara Lunar Venn – Instagram
Siem Reap Construction and Renovation for their help in constructing the walls for the murals.
Serendipity and the six degrees of separation in our shrinking world found me at 5 am on a video chat with Brent Gerlach in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
He was standing in front of the carved doors in his shared home at Black Pepper Resort. The hot Cambodian sun was already tenacious in a brilliant indigo sky. 8,778 km separated us. We had not met before.
Many decades prior, a talented young woman saw a theatre performance of mine in the midwest of America. Jane Schroeder had connected with me on social media and learned that I had lived in Cambodia. She joined me with Brent Gerlach, a Madison, Wisconsin artist, now making Cambodia his home. The three of us shared living and working in the arts in Madison during different decades. This delightful fluke of time and space brought Brent and me smiling at each other on our video chat.
Our long session consisted of a stroll through the winding grounds and ponds of the resort. Exploding colors of passion fruit flowers, lilies, hyacinths, roselle blossoms, and coconut trees frolicked across my computer screen. Brent modestly spoke about the work done on the resort during the long Covid break. I could feel the magnitude of the transformation. He graciously introduced me to members of his extended family, staff, and guests that crossed our path. Som Pas received and returned. His voice sang with the gentleness of profound kindness. He didn’t want to impose his ideas about the resort on me. Instead, we wandered through the lush surroundings to allow me my own observations.
I detected far more than the beauty of nature’s landscape. More than the bridges, arches, colorful walls, columns, streams, painted canoes, and places to convene, swim, fish, or sit in silence. I recognized something even more potent: attentiveness.
Diligence. Mindfulness. Heedfulness. Reverence. Thoughtfulness.
These are the human attributes that bring forth the best in us. This is what makes Black Pepper Resort special.
The beauty and mystery of this world only emerges through affection, attention, interest, and compassion . . . open your eyes wide and actually see this world by attending to its colors, details, and irony.
Black Pepper’s website begins with “Black Pepper connects visitors with Cambodia through the natural world. While Black Pepper offers a suite of nature-oriented activities in the countryside of Siem Reap, the adventure is always for our guests to choose. We’re located ~15km outside the city, where guests can book a Day Pass, Camp, or hold a Private Event.
The choices are plentiful. You can experience the natural beauty via a canoe and paddle with the dragonflies and butterflies that whimsically dart around your head. Then, jump in and swim. Emerge into an outside shower to refresh before taking a leisurely nap in a hammock. Whittle away worries by fishing; find a wooden pavilion to practice yoga, or find a perch to gaze at sunrise or sunset. Camp and hike with friends. Pick your own coconut and have it blended into a soothing smoothie. Wander with your thoughts. Bring a chicken to grill and BBQ. Hold your marriage ceremony by sharing Mother Earth’s glory with your guests. Gather staff for an employee meeting to think and plan with the expansive skies overhead. Feel the magic of a bonfire to spark your spirits.
Black Pepper Resort provides the mechanisms and supplies to experience nature for these activities.
In addition, they offer their imaginations and skills to manifest your ideas. Sweet.
The extended family and friends who diligently work to make Black Pepper memorable to their guests are partnered with nature and Khmer history. Their story is the quintessential modern Cambodian story shared by many.
Daryna Ou is a Thai-Cambodian artist born in the United States. Her father fled the Khmer Rouge and eventually, he was sponsored by an American family. In the US he and his Thai wife started their family.
As a young artist, Daryna met Brent, and many creative adventures began. Inheriting her parents’ trauma, Daryna took it upon herself to cope and heal and learned to share her story and be available to those with similar experiences.
So it is no surprise that they are now creating and generating a place in Khmer’s bountiful nature for others to grow, contemplate and celebrate life. Circles are closed, and hands are clasped together.
Experience this for yourself. Visit Black Pepper Resort. Make friends with the staff and hosts. Let your senses explode with nature and quality conversation. Let the trees whisper to you as they sway in the wind. Renew friendship with yourself.
The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race. Wonder and humility are wholesome emotions, and they do not exist side by side with a lust for destruction.
Click & Scroll through these images of Black Pepper. They speak more eloquently than words.
Envision your experience in the resort…and come.