A woman apparently angry with her husband spent nearly eight hours in the top of a palm tree at Wat Phnom Thursday, drawing the police, the fire department and more than 1,000 people who gaped at the rescue efforts.
“She climbed the tree because she was angry with her husband, who beat her because she asked him for 200 riel to buy cigarettes,” said Cheang Leab, the brother of 19-year-old Chan Sophal.
Chan Sophal, who lives on the street with her husband and baby, was able to climb the roughly 15-meter-tall tree using a narrow ladder installed for collecting palm juice.
Cheang Leab’s son, who works as a shoe shine boy near Wat Phnom, saw his aunt climbing the tree at about 10:30 am. He ran home and told his father, who returned to plead with his sister to come down.
At one point, Cheang Leab said, his sister agreed to descend, but after shinnying halfway down the tree, she stopped and climbed back to the top. There, she drank a pot of palm juice and fell asleep, leaving police unable to contact her.
Chan Sophal eventually woke up and the police sent a man up an adjacent tree to talk with her, but she refused to come down. By that time, a crowd of more than 1,000 stood packed around the tree.
At 6 pm, Chan Sophal began a slow climb down the tree, and the crowd cheered. But three meters from the bottom she stopped and started back up. Her brother raced up the tree, stopped her and, together with police officers, coaxed her down.
Surrounded by a cluster of policemen, Chan Sophal was whisked into a fire truck, which sped away, sirens wailing.
Police said she was detained briefly at the police station and told not to climb trees anymore.