BA Phnom might be one of the earliest religious sites in Cambodia, but it is also one of the least visited. This is hardly surprising, as a few stones represent all that is left of the 11th century temple known as Preah Vihear Chann.
Keo Mony, 20, has been selling drinks and snacks close to the temple for 10 years, ever since Khmer-American Sar Sorypha started to fund the construction of a series of temples at the top of the hill.
At first, Keo Mony used to sell cakes there after school, but now she has her own stall where she sells papaya shakes, noodles, snacks and cigarettes.
“When they completed construction of two of the pagodas more people came,” she says. “But now there are less and less.”
Those who do arrive, tend to come at weekends, when around 60 to 100 Cambodians visit the site, which has been inhabited since the 5th century.
“Then I can make 7,000 riel to 8,000 riel profit each day,” she says.
Keo Mony believes the poor quality of the road used to deter tourists.
“Previously visitors came and complained that the road was very bad,” she says. “I hope that now the road is better, more will come here.”
Work on paving a section of the road was completed about six months ago, although most of the 9km from the highway is still along a dirt road.
“I think it could be a good thing for this place,” she says. Even if trade does not pick up, Keo Mony will not be going anywhere. “I don’t know what to do besides selling,” she says.
TRANSLATION BY RANN REUY