SIEM REAP CITY – Inside the grounds of this city’s old provincial hall, past a green corrugated iron fence, municipal street cleaners and their families are squatting in what was once a bustling government office filled with civil servants.
Across the road, the former department of rural development is a deserted shell, its surroundings now a rudimentary eatery serving rice and pork to chain-smoking chess players.
The scenarios playing out on these plots of land are reminiscent of Cambodian village life. But this is some of the most expensive and advantageously located land in Siem Reap City, Cambodia’s most visited tourist destination where land does not come cheap. The plots are also part of the biggest land swap deal ever carried out by the Cambodian government.