Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Boeung Kak bye-bye

Restaurants and guesthouses line the edge of Boeung Kak lake, 2007
Long Phnom Penh's backpacker ghetto, Boeung Kak lake and its legendary budget traveler scene is on its last legs. I first visited the lakeside in 1994, staying very briefly (1 night) at the Number 9 Guesthouse, one of the two or three traveler places on the lakeside at the time. As guesthouses go, it wasn't my cup of tea, but they did serve a darn good $1 bowl of curry and the breezy view over the lake was something special. In the ensuing years Street 93 along the Boeung Kak lakeside bloomed with backpacker businesses, becoming Phnom Penh's dirty little version of Khao San Road - awash in dreads, drugs, bootleg music and cheap eats and digs at the water's edge. But back in 2007 most of Boeung Kak was sold to a developer in yet another of Cambodia's controversial large land deals. Over the last couple of years the lake has been almost completely reclaimed, filled with sand, erasing it from the map of Phnom Penh and displacing hundreds of people in the process. And, according to yesterday's Cambodia Daily, as of a few days ago the businesses along Street 93, including the remaining budget guesthouses and other backpacker places, were issued their marching orders by the city. 'Vacate in one week,' it reads. In reality, they probably have a bit more time than that, but not much.

It won't be long now.

Street 93 in 2008

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