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 took a friend out to the town of Kompong Kdei in the neighbouring province, where he will start his journey onwards. After a breakfast of rice, pork and crickets at Damdek, we headed to an Angkorian bridge which I have been meaning to visit for years. We checked out an ice factory, and I stopped at a new pagoda on the way back. Here are some moments from a trip east – the surrounds of Kompong Kdei as it is today.