Bamboo,Plastic,Plastic String 竹，塑膠布，塑膠繩 35×35×135 cm
Koh Pich is an island located in the east of Phnom Penh, capital city of Cambodia. It used to be the area settled by the minority ethnic groups and served as the quarantine area for leprosy patients. In 2006, since the Cambodia government reached a development agreement with several investment companies, this island has become a hot spot for Taiwan and China’s construction companies. Their ambition has brought here a huge array of villas and apartments, with replicas of the Arc de Triomphe (Paris) and Marina Bay Sands Hotel (Singapore) springing up at a rapid speed.
The place I’ve stayed in Phnom Penh was quite near Koh Pich. I therefore got a lot of chance to participate in the island’s daily life. People come and leave this island. They could be divided mainly into Chinese construction companies, other foreign real estate buyers, Cambodian construction workers, and the Phnom Penh residents who only show up here when the night market is open. Any trace of the ethnic people or leprosy patients who used to live here could no longer be seen. The newly-built houses are vacant with few residents living in as if it’s a haunted island.
It is interesting that the appearance of local housing on the way from Phnom Penh downtown to Koh Pich has changed obviously since the entering of foreign merchants. Originally, in front of traditional local housing, people used to hang up a “jom-neang-pdtoah”. That is a mini bamboo hut, storing red paper-cut clothes, along with sweet rice cakes as the offering for the wandering ghosts named “Khmos pres”, who are said to be ghosts of children who died prematurely and are eager for the warmth of family. The offering is to provide them a shelter for a short period of time and to pray for the safety of people living in the house. It’s natural that these traditional rituals could still be seen in those newly-built apartments and villas open for foreigner buyers.
Out of deep respect for the local rituals, I’ve ordered custom-made mini “diamond CA&SA (an apartment built by a local Taiwanese construction company)” from a local jom-neang-pdtoah craftsman to offer the wandering ghosts a dwelling on Koh Pich before I left Phnom Penh.
Special thanks to Noun Sovitou
(This is a rough translation of the original in Chinese)