Former Pepsi Bottling Plant, 1960's, with its last employee
I am not clear on the political relationship between the two cities, located a solid 5 hour drive apart. I do know that Battambang was the origin of Lon Nol’s coup d’état in 1970, which sent King Norodom Sihanouk into exile and effectively marked the end of the New Khmer Architecture movement. The city is considered by
On my way to Vann Molyvann’s factory I came upon this old Pepsi Bottling Plant which also seemed to be a bridge between movements, only the two later ones. It featured some of the details common of the New Khmer, while its expressive elements were Art Deco. I don’t know anything about the story of the building. However, there was an old man sweeping the grounds, and when I asked him if I could go inside he politely said no, but gave me some of his story instead. He had been working there for 45 years since it was first built as an ice factory. Now, the plant is closed down and he is the last one left on the payroll. He sleeps in a shed alone and tends the gardens and grounds while the building itself has not been occupied for almost 10 years. I didn't follow what happened to the factory during the Khmer Rouge years, but not all of the factories were shut down then and it’s possible that he had just worked through it.
Now the building will likely meet the fate of many of the factories in this city, which were torn down by land speculators. Again, you wonder what will be put up in their place, but it likely won’t be the manufacturing that provided jobs for the residents here. This is just one more example of the government chasing foreign cash while its people are left to suffer.