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Young hotelier is typical of new breed

Young hotelier is typical of new breed

S

IEM REAP - Things have certainly improved since childhood for Tra Yeu when he

spent time shoveling manure on a Khmer Rouge collective farm.

Yeu is a

part of an increasing band of enterprising Khmers spearheading the country's

fragile recovery.

Yeu's moto: "Looking intimately at any situation to see

if there is an opportunity to produce more prosperity; the limit is only set by

my own imagination and initiative".

After the Vietnamese invasion, at age

13, Yeu returned to the high school in Siem Reap, but he realized early that

learning English and French fluently would be crucial to fulfiling his dream of

earning a decent living through the tourism industry.

"At first I had to

study languages secretly from a wise old man for 10 riel a month as my

stepfather forbid me learning, I think he was jealous."

In June 1986,

while still studying, Yeu together with his mother hired a small plot of land on

the outskirts of Siem Reap for 40 riel a month. In his spare hours Yeu collected

wood from the forest trees and they slowly pieced together a small bark shanty.

By February 1987 the Yeu family restaurant was open to the public.

Yeu

would be up at 7am to entice incoming tourists to the restaurant, he would study

in the afternoons and then work as the restaurant cook at night.

By 1991

the restaurant was florishing, earning 80,000 riel per month and Yeu was able to

leave his mother to run the operation so he could pursue other

ventures.

Yeu's intensive learning of languages was to pay off and

fortune quickly turned favourable for him.

"In October 1992 I landed an

eight month job with Untac as an interpreter, the salary was great, $272 per

month, I was able to save $1600."

Yeu used this money to go into

partnership with his uncle. Together they bought a four walled concrete building

for $1500.

After painting, plastering, remoulding the floor, and $1000

of refurbishments where beds, toilets and showers were installed in the

premises, Guest House 58 was opened to tourists in June 1993.

It is a

small five unit hotel, each room has two beds, fans, fridge and a proper shower

and toilet.

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