Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Living on the edge

Living on the edge

Living on the edge

Uk Lan, 44, contemplates the quickly disappearing village of Chy Rom Krom.

“IN the future the land on which we are standing will be no more,” says Uk Lan, 44. “Now we live around 20 to 30 metres away from the river and next year we will have to move again. We move every year.”

Lan is one of about 100 families who live in the village of Chy Rom Krom on the opposite bank of the Mekong River from the town of Kampong Cham.

“The landslides started about four or five years ago,” says Lan’s nephew, Cheng Dy, 34.

Across the small shop in which the whole family is huddled, the bank suddenly drops away, creating a precarious backdrop to our interview. However, there is no need to worry, as the landslides only occur after the rainy season floods, when the water recedes, dragging the land down with it. Now we are in the middle of the dry season.

The villagers do not know why the landslides suddenly started to occur, although they suspect it had something to do with work carried out to divert the flow to protect erosion on the other side of the river. But they have received no formal explanation.

As opposed to the Cham fishing villages further along the bank, these Khmer villagers are farmers, growing vegetables and tobacco, which they roast a few kilometres along the bank and then sell in Kampong Cham.

They used to live on the small island in the middle of the river but that is not possible now. Instead they grow crops there, rowing to the fast-disappearing sand banks each day during the dry season. Their homes are being pushed back further and further onto dry land.

“We don’t have any land to live on,” says Lan. “We rent land to live and grow vegetables.”

Fortunately for them their landlord is a “good person”, who charges them a minimal rent. Provincial officials also provide them with rice, noodles and other food, however this does nothing to allay their primary concern.

“The main problem for us is we don’t have any land,” says Uk Lan.  As we leave, Cheng Dy starts singing a song about their disappearing land. Unfortunately for him, their local commune leaders appear to have a deaf ear.


  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • American ‘fugitive’ arrested in Cambodia outside of US Embassy

    An American citizen was arrested on request by the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, according to Cambodian police. Major General Uk Hei Sela, chief of investigations at the Department of Immigration, identified the man as American Jan Sterling Hagen, and said he was

  • One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

    Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018 An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and

  • Peeling back layers of prehistory in Battambang

    When the man passed away, he had not yet reached 50. He belonged to a tribe that had settled near the Sangker River in Battambang province, likely cultivating the fields and raising animals. On the side, they hunted for boars, and even turtles, one of which