141km from Siem Reap and 171km from Phnom Penh, Kompong Thom is a small town on the River Sen. It is a place of little excitement but ticks all the sights of a Cambodian provincial capital: The Honda dealership, the big ACLEDA bank, and the quiet Ministry of Industry, Mining and Energy. Like many towns in Cambodia, Kompong Thom feels like it should be on the up but is not, or was on the up and then stopped.
The following images were taken within 24 hours of each other.
A young girl helps her father load their small boat, ready for an afternoon of fishing on the swollen River Sen.An unfinished pagoda building stands in front of the main structure, on the flood plain. A group of farmers from a distant province rest in their truck full of bananas to be sold at Kompong Thom market. Afternoon activity on one of the many backstreets coming off Route 6. A shop owner, still in his home attire, braves the mid-day heat.One of many vendors selling fresh sugar cane juice in front of the market, for 500 Riel a bag.
Food vendors set up stall in front of the market for most of the night.
Two mannequins stand silently in a clothes store opposite Kompong Thom market.A row of shop-fronts in the centre of town, indistinguishable from any other town in Cambodia.The old and new crossings into Kompong Thom.Well known among the locals, she runs this ferry every morning without fail, for 500 Riel a crossing.A woman takes the local ferry home from the market with provisions for the next day or two.
To escape the heat of the afternoon, a boy braves the drop from the old bridge, into the River Sen.
I first took the route from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet in 2009. I couldn’t resist a 6 hour journey through the breezy countryside of eastern Thailand, for just 48 Baht. In the heat of mid-day the journey comes to its end, 10 minutes tuk-tuk drive from the border checkpoint with Cambodia. I have heard of nightmare […]
So it’s been an age since my last post – close to a year. It’s also been a long time since I left Cambodia, now. The nostalgia is difficult occasionally. Something is dragging me back.
“Cambodia is a dangerous place…”, a former US ambassador said, “It’ll take your heart, and it’ll break it.” It went something like that, anyway.
A visiting friend once said to me, “It’s like Narnia – you’ve stepped through the cupboard and you’re now in this other world.”
Late in the afternoon in the stilted town of Kompong Khleang, fish are still being sold where the edge of the rising Tonle Sap meets land. It looks a shambles but is actually a fairly organised system. The boat will have already been anchored out on the lake and acting as a middle-man. These five shots show the next transaction once back on dry land. Off to the evening market.