Saturday, April 4, 2009

Market no more

The temporary stalls leading from the Preah Vihear gate sign down to the former border gate with Thailand
Whilst Cambodia and Thailand dispute the numbers of casualties and who fired first, one of the outcomes from yesterday's two gun-battles around Preah Vihear temple was the loss of the ramshackle market stalls at the foot of the temple's causeway stairs and close to the former border gate into Thailand. A military commander reported, ".. the market was burned down during the fighting," and a market vendor said, "all of my clothes have completely burned. Thai soldiers shelled this market with the intention of destroying the shelter of civilians." The original market at the site had been closed a while ago and was surrounded with corrugated metal sheeting when I was there last week though a series of temporary stalls had sprung up along the path towards the Thai border and a couple of vendors, who were family members of soldiers on duty, were selling catfish, meat and vegetables alongwith beer and soft drinks. I'm presuming their customers were the soldiers themselves as we were the only tourists we saw during more than three hours at the temple. If the stalls and the original market were hit by mortar shells then I can understand the whole place going up in flames pretty quickly and as such it would be an easy target to cause the most damage.
The stalls at the foot of the main causeway steps leading up to Preah Vihear temple
Posing at the foot of the causeway steps under the Preah Vihear sign last week. I'm glad I wasn't trying to get this picture taken yesterday.
The flattened market behind this Khmer soldier is all that remains



Blogger Ric and Sharon Bruce said...

YES! Very glad you weren't trying to get that picture yesterday. Wow. It's so neat to see your pics of the temple and the surrounding area... way better than the best news sites, who are a just recycling pics from last year's archives.

Keep up the great work!

April 4, 2009 at 1:22 PM  
OpenID alisonincambodia said...

That is sad news for the vendors and people who lived near there. Is there now no one living in that area at all now except for soldiers? I stayed overnight at a guesthouse that was right behind the old market leading up to the temple just a few months ago. Some of the soldiers were staying there too- the family that ran it was friendly. Such a shame.

April 5, 2009 at 3:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Andy, can you confirm if Thai side from the Joint border committee meeting on April 6th 2009 admits 22 Thai soldiers dead and 27 injured?

April 6, 2009 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Just soldiers in the area of the burnt-out market now, but they don't live there, they are in bunkers all along the mountainside whilst on duty and in tents closer to the top end of the temple when resting. The guesthouse(s)have been demolished I believe. Well perhaps guesthouse was a grandiose word for a shelf on which I slept a few years ago in the same location.
The Thais acknowledge 3 deaths only the last I heard. Both sides either play down or play up the numbers game for their own ends. Its impossible to know the true figures. I don't believe any figures I read in the press.

April 6, 2009 at 7:26 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Today's press suggests 257 stalls were burnt down or demolished by the recent fighting, as well as 66 damaged stones belonging to the temple that received direct hits from bullets or shrapnel. PM Hun Sen has demanded the market be rebuilt but in a more appealing style with wood and traditional roofing rather than the shanty-town look that was there before. All the market vendors were taken to Se'em and will no doubt be back again pretty soon once tensions have deceased.
And the unofficial count of Thais is 22 dead and 30 wounded, offered up by the Cambodians.

April 8, 2009 at 5:09 PM  

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