Businessman Finds His Weighing Niche 500 Riel at a Time

Bun Van Phiong stood proudly next to his contraption and held up five fingers to the crowds circling Wat Botum on Khmer New Year.

“Five hundred riel,” called the Vietnamese businessman.

While businesses were shuttered across town and Cambo­dians flocked to pagodas, Bun Van Phiong on Wednes­day was hawking the services of his super-scale. One by one, vacationers stepped onto the multi-colored scale, with all its bells and whistles, and heard it pronounce their weight in Vietnamese.

“My scale can tell people their blood pressure, height and weight, and will tell them if they are overweight,” Bun Van Phiong, 34, said through a translator. He said he recently paid $2,000 for the scale in Vietnam to bring to Phnom Penh for business. He wheeled it to Wat Botum to capitalize on the New Year’s holiday.

“I learned that here in Phnom Penh, they do not have this kind of business yet, so I decided to do it,” he said.

Vietnamese products have gained currency since last year’s fall-out with Thailand, and innovations like the scale have been featured at Vietnamese trade shows in the capital.

Bun Van Phiong said he hit upon the idea in February when visiting relatives in Cambodia, and his venture is proving profitable. He said he was earning between $12.50 to $15 a day over the holidays, compared to his normal daily profit of $7.50. Between 100 and 150 people have used the scale every day this week, he said.

Though he will return to his native country in the coming months, he said he plans to come back to Phnom Penh, and has learned to speak a little Khmer to complement his new business. “You are thin,” he said in Khmer to one customer.

“I’m very happy to run a mobile scale business at the pagoda today,” he said.

Customers were also happy for the Khmer New Year diversion.

“I don’t mind spending some money for getting my measurements on New Year’s,” said

19-year-old Kunkeary, who stopped at the scale while walking with her mother.

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