Wat Bo, on the east side of the Siem Reap River, where our property is located, is a quiet, cosy area in Siem Reap. Close enough to the Pub Street, far from the noise of night parties. It has been known as a residential area, where ex-pats often choose as their place to live. Quiet, green, and less traffic.

The alley in front of our property is quiet.
The alley is quiet, especially after the pandemic. Wat Bo, Siem Reap © Tomoyuki Sakurai

Siem Reap, as well as the country, has been changing. Many infrastructure projects, despite the impact of the pandemic, are going on. Wat Bo is not an exception. Recently, before the pandemic, many businesses were opening by major streets in the Wat Bo area. Residents feared that the area would become another touristic area, like an area around the Pub Street.

In front of our property, we have an alley, one end to a wider road, and another to nothing. The alley is so narrow that, at night, tuk-tuk drivers might miss the alley. When it is raining, the alley is flooded, and becomes very muddy. Traffic was little or nothing. Neighbours let their kids playing on the alley without fear of a traffic accident. Probably not in the future.

Many people observing the survey in front of our property
Neighbours observing the survey. Wat Bo, Siem Reap. © Tomoyuki Sakurai

A development begins

This morning, I was in my room when a young lady visited the property. She is a daughter of my landlord. She drove a car with her mother and brother from Phnom Penh, the capital of the country. They came here to talk to government officials. The government will widen the alley, and build a new road. The landowners by the road will give up some spaces for the road without compensation. Good news, or bad? For some business owners, they like the quiet atmosphere. Others welcome the news, hoping the new road will attract more tourists, and business. We have another street in the back, which is one of the major streets in the area. Hopefully, that street will remain the main street.

“I’ve never seen the alley is so crowded”, said one of my neighbours. The government officials and engineers surveyed the alley, and answered questions from residents. People kindly translated the answers for me. Like any other places in the region, things will not be clear until the last minute. I will take the plan and the answers with a “grain” of salt. We will see. Anyway, I cannot do anything with it.

According to my observations in other areas of the town, they usually pave roads, and replace the water system under the ground, which gives residents better access to water. Two, or three-storied houses usually have water reservoirs on the top floor because the pressure is not strong enough to pump the water to the top. With newer water pipes, the pressure can be increased. A great improvement for locals.

Government officials making survey of an alley in Wat Bo, Siem Reap
"I've never seen the alley is so crowded", said one of my neighbours. Wat Bo, Siem Reap. © Tomoyuki Sakurai

People fear changes a bit, but generally, they are very hopeful. The country is a poor country. Many problems here and there. Still, people are positive for the future.

The country had been in war for too long. They deserve a better future.