Bar Brightens Sleepy Provincial Town

kompong chhnang town – International observers in Kompong Chnnang this weekend were encouraged to spend as much time as possible at the bar.

“The Halfway House is the safest place in the whole of Kompong Chhnang,” says Greg Beirne, a long-term observer in the province and a regular customer of the town’s first Western-style bar.

“Come to think of it, Kompong Ch­hnang’s the safest place in Cambodia, which must mean The Halfway House was the safest place to be in Cambodia this weekend,” he joked, explaining that security forces here cause no problems and that violence elsewhere rarely affects the province. The bar also has its own security guards. “It was nice to know the observers were safely tucked away at the bar after dark,” Beirne said.

The Halfway House is the brainchild of Paul Greaves, who is also the project manager of a new cargo airport under development just outside Kompong Chhnang town.

He said there was nothing to do here in the evenings, so he decided to provide his own entertainment.

“We’ve got the only flush toilet in Kom­pong Chhnang,” he said proudly.

The Halfway House opened July 15 halfway along the road between the town and the airport. Greaves planned to attract the large number of NGO workers located in the area but says business has received an unexpected early boost from the influx of international election observers.

“We didn’t expect the bar to take off until expats got back from their holidays in August,” Greaves said. “But there’s quite a crowd of us in most nights now.”

Staffed by a Filipino cook and Khmer and Vietnamese waitresses, the air-conditioned bar-restaurant has much to recommend it. The extensive menu takes in everything from bangers and mash and breakfast to barracuda, and the bar list is comprehensive. A local NGO worker and frequenter of the bar recommends steak and chips at the end of a long day.

The Halfway House also boasts satellite television and a pool table.

And it could soon be the place to be for those wishing to hobnob with Mel Gibson and the movie set.

“If ‘Mad Max 4’ goes ahead at the end of the year, 500 movie types should be in here every night,” said Greaves, referring to an Australian film production company’s plans to shoot the movie at the airfield here.

Greaves soon hopes to offer cocktails, an outdoor barbecue and possibly a guest house.


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