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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - "This is my land, so it's also my airport"

"This is my land, so it's also my airport"

A FTER decades of neglect, the Takeo airport has become a field of bushes and

grass where cows graze for food. Villagers say people have come to dig and

collect the basement rocks for other uses, but the original shape of the runway

can still be seen.

Farmers transplant rice between the areas of crushed,

compacted rocks, which cover in part an area of about 15 hectares.

Hardly any people come to see the abandoned airfield except some

Japanese peace-keepers who paid a few visits during the UNTAC

period.

There is really not a great deal to see.

In Takeo town,

the moto-taxi driver told the Post that the airport was only about 25km away to

the south. But, it took over an hour to reach the old Japanese base which is

actually situated 10km inside Kampot.

The road is only now used by horse

and ox carts. It is not passable by cars. One of the bridges is almost wholly

collapsed, blown up years ago by the Khmer Rouge.

When the Post arrived

at the area where thousands of Khmer coolies used to work for the Japanese, two

local policemen and two farmers thought that Japanese agents had returned to

"buy" the airport back for future restoration.

"This is my land, so it is

also my airport," said one of the farmers.

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