Cambodians poured through the partially reopened Poipet border checkpoint to Thailand on Saturday, happy and relieved to renew cross-border trade after the nine-day closure.
Immigration police said about 6,000 Cambodians crossed the border to sell goods at Long Keu market, known in Thailand as Rong Klua. Cambodians were allowed to cross by foot only; trucks, motorbikes, oxcarts and even pushcarts remain banned.
Thailand closed all border checkpoints and refused entry to all Cambodians following the violent Jan 29 anti-Thai rioting in Phnom Penh that destroyed the Thai Embassy and numerous Thai-owned businesses.
All border crossings were reopened to Cambodians Saturday, except the checkpoint at Preah Vihear temple, which has been closed for more than a year.
Chan Samean, who sells second-hand shoes in the Long Keu market, said she was relieved to find her stock intact when she returned.
“I was very concerned when the border was closed, because all my goods were still in Long Keu,” Chan Samean said. “I was worried that the Thais would burn and loot [the market] to avenge what happened in Phnom Penh. But nothing was lost.”
There are no bad feelings between her and her customers, she said. “I met them again, and we are still friends,” Chan Samean said. “We talked about the rioting in Phnom Penh and the Thai border closure. We both blamed the two governments for causing us to lose the income we need to support our families.”