About 100 to 150 vendors have set up shop at Oddar Meanchey province’s Ta Moan temple, usually a deserted site, hoping to capitalize on crowds of tourists expected for the Khmer New Year, RCAF and local officials said Sunday.
Most vendors come from Oddar Meanchey and Banteay Mean-chey province, but some—officials could not estimate how many—have relocated to Ta Moan from Preah Vihear temple, where the market burned down as the result of fighting last week.
“We are not afraid of an armed confrontation here because there are too many tourists who visit the temple every day,” Chan Than, a 24-year-old drink vendor, said of the temple complex where Thai and Cambodian troops have been stationed since July. “I think that the number of visitors should in-crease during the Khmer New Year, and then I might be making good money.”
About 700 tourists, from both Thailand and Cambodia, have come to Ta Moan Thom, the Cam-bodian-occupied portion of the three-temple complex, every day since the start of the month, said Oddar Meanchey Deputy Gover-nor Yim Thin. Thai soldiers are stationed at two smaller temples and they will allow Cambodian visitors to see the Thai-held half of the disputed site during the New Year celebrations, he added.
There are few visitors to the site outside of holidays, but nearby villagers typically visit the temple for the Khmer New Year, said Kok-mon commune chief Ourn Vy. He estimated that about 100 new vendors have set up shop at the base of the mountain and around the temples.
The situation at the Ta Moan complex is much calmer than at the Preah Vihear temple, and there is currently no tension be-tween Thai and Cambodian troops there, said RCAF Region 4 chief of staff Nark Vong.
But soldiers remain prepared and on-site, he said.
“I have not gone home for the Khmer New Year, and I am still stationed here to control the situation,” he said.