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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Art meets revelry at new Boeung Kak container market

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A view of the market, which opened last Saturday and will have live music on a nightly basis. Hong Menea

Art meets revelry at new Boeung Kak container market

The capital now has its second large-scale container market, this time in the Boeung Kak neighbourhood.

Constructed on land once submerged by the city’s largest lake, before it was controversially filled in to make room for development, Art’s Container Market is a lively and creative space that complements its counterpart across town by supporting and focusing on artists. Unlike Jet’s Container Market, which opened in March and also has a retail section, Art’s only has food and drinks, with music as a backdrop.

When Bun Seng, the 27-year-old owner of the market, started building the project about three months ago, he saw Boeung Kak as a potential new hub of activity, and perceived a need for more open space for young people.

“I noticed that Jet’s Container Market is not big enough for the increasingly middle-class and young-generation customers, and they really need a second place where they could enjoy relaxing dinners and drinks with their friends,” he said.

The new night market was officially opened last Saturday, and according to vendors it is already crowded. The market has 80 stalls, offering mostly Khmer dishes, as well as both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The main draw, though, is the aesthetic, which Seng claims distinguishes his market.

Every stall is decorated with contemporary art, including paintings and sculptures. For example, The Warrior, a restaurant owned by Seng which dishes out a Caesar Salad ($4) and Deep-fried Sea Crabs with Garlic ($4), is decorated with sculptures of a shield and sword made of motorbike and bicycle parts. The pieces of art, according to the owner, convey that every day is a battle.

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Market owner Bun Seng in front of The Warrior sculpture. Hong Menea

“It is great for us artists,” says Chhoun Vichheka, with the Cambodia Doodle Club, who was hired by Seng to design and build the sculpture, as he put the last touches on it with a paintbrush. “Artists do not earn much from their work, and this market gives us an opportunity to make money and to show our talent.”

In the nearby Fat Angel Restaurant, owner Cheky Athiporn, an actor who starred in the movie Love 2 the Power of 4, has designed his restaurant with a pink theme and “cute” concept – a selfie-friendly background alongside tasty Khmer-Thai dishes.

“When I rented this stall to start a restaurant, I could not only make my business idea a reality but could also use my design skills which I learned in college,” he says. “I also get to meet many of my artists friends here.”

The market is also a platform for musicians. A stage is in the middle of the compound for nightly concerts with Cambodian bands, like Soriya and 6-LIGHT, who are trying to promote original songs. Special events, like performances by famous Cambodian stars such as Meas Soksophea and Sai, are also promised.

Kiev Oudom, a 24-year-old freelance graphic designer who came to the container market two days in a row, told Post Weekend that he already fell in love with the place on his first visit because of the food and artsy personality.

“There are two things many of my friends and I love: food and art,” he says. “This is the best place for us to hang around, and I hope there will be more places like that in Phnom Penh.”

Art’s Container Market is located on Street R1, Boeung Kak, next to Central Park Sports Complex and about 1 km north of Phnom Penh city center. It is open from 4pm to 1am. Tel: 017 813 813

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