Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A moving experience with an antique Khmer house



A moving experience with an antique Khmer house

A moving experience with an antique Khmer house

090521_07a.jpg
090521_07a.jpg

Having saved one old Khmer house in 2006 by moving it 300 kilometres, Darryl Collins is set to repeat the feat in Siem Reap.

Photo by:

PETER OLSZEWSKI

Darryl Collins (left) and Hok Sokol on the steps of the almost-disassembled Khmer house. 

SIEM Reap-based Australian art and culture historian Darryl Collins is at it again - moving house.

But unlike ordinary folk who simply move possessions and belongings, Collins moves the entire house. With the aid of Khmer architect and colleague Hok Sokol, he embarked on his first moving experience in 2006.

This was a herculean odyssey involving relocating an entire 100-year-old historic Chinese-Khmer wooden house from an island in the middle of a river in Kampong Cham - disassembling it, then carting it more than 300 kilometers to Siem Reap, where it now stands, resplendently  restored.

Last month he applied for the house to be given a Southeast Asian Heritage award, an annual prize handed out by the regional UNESCO office in Bangkok each September, and is now awaiting the result.

But instead of resting on his chaise longue, Collins, together with Hok Sokol, started to move another house this week.

This house, another century-old wooden Khmer home, is not quite so grand as the Kampong Cham residence, and the moving experience is not so overwhelming.

The house is nestled beside the Siem Reap River rather than on an island, and instead of having to be carted 300 kilometres, the old house in Aranh Sakor village only has to be moved 2 kilometres.

This house is also special because, further research withstanding, it could well be Siem Reap's oldest domestic structure.

Hok Sokol said, "It's maybe just over 100 years old, and I think it's the oldest house in Siem Reap."

Collins is a tad more cautious.

"It's quite an old structure. Sokol has mentioned an age of approximately 100 years, but we can't verify that yet because we have to do more research on its history.

"I would think it would be one of the oldest domestic structures in Siem Reap. It wouldn't, of course, hold against some of the wats, but they're religious structures and are quite different."

As with the Kampong Cham residence, this house first came to the attention of Hok Sokol, who then alerted Collins to its existence and its need for preservation.

"When I was a student in 1997, my university professor had a small grant to invite four students to study the architecture of the houses in Siem Reap," Hok Sokol said.

"We travelled along the Siem River, observed the housing and buildings surrounding the area,  and found that there were very interesting houses. But the owner has already modified and remodeled one of these houses. With this one, the owners recently abandoned it because they'd built a new concrete house, and decided to sell it.

Collins said he bought the house "basically to save it".

He added, "I'd known about the house for several years and Sokol and I came to see it a couple of times. It became vacant, more derelict.

Its condition was fading fast."

This week, Collins has begun disassembling the house and moving it to its new nearby location where it will be stored during the rainy season and then rebuilt. He said, "We built a structure on the new site to protect the wood and it will be okay to be kept dry for one rainy season. You can't store these houses for very long, and it will have to be rebuilt as quickly as possible."

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Angkor Beer, 30 Years of Prestige and Still Counting

    Let’s celebrate 30 years of prestige with Angkor Beer. In this 2022, Angkor Beer is 30 years old and has been staying with Cambodian hearts in all circumstances. Head of core beer portfolio, EmYuthousaid, “We have been with Cambodians for three decades now. We, ANGKOR Beer, pride

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,