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Terrible twos no problem for local bar

Miss Wong has survived the two worst years to be in business in Southeast Asia

MISS Wong, one of Siem Reap’s favourite bars, celebrated its second birthday last Saturday with flowing champagne cocktails for a packed crowd.

It’s been a rocky but fun-filled two years for the Shanghai-themed cocktail bar, and Kiwi owner Dean Williams is now standing rightly proud of his elegantly kitsch creation.

“We’ve been through some really tough times,” Williams said. “We opened two weeks before the economic crisis kicked in, then [came] the airport closure in Bangkok and other disturbances in Thailand. Miss Wong has survived the two worst years to be in business in Southeast Asia.”

Adding to the woes, for the first four months the bar was operational, water supplies in town had almost dried up, and the venue had to bring in 300 litres of water most days.

But, this being Cambodia, a resilient Williams kept the bar going, even taking on extra work to keep things afloat. He had to cope with dengue fever, a broken leg caused by negligent street maintenance in town and somehow managed to put his head in the ceiling fan – a move that made the whole town wince.

But having ridden out the worst of it, Williams is looking forward to the future.

“I have a lot of ideas for other bars. I’d like to open in another part of Southeast Asia although the economic crisis has put that on the back burner for the moment,” he said.

Williams’ mother described his style as being something like a bull at a gate, hence the accidents. Though this may also be why it seems that no economic crisis could hold Williams or Miss Wong back for long.

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