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Kampong Cham Bamboo Bridge

Phnom Penh, April 3, 2024 – The Kampong Cham Bamboo Bridge, also known as the Koh Pen Bridge, was once the world's longest bamboo bridge, stretching an impressive 1 kilometer (3,280 feet) across the Mekong River in Cambodia. It connected the mainland town of Kampong Cham to Koh Pen Island. Sadly, the bridge is no longer the world's longest, but it remains an important cultural landmark.

Built annually during the dry season, the bridge was a vital transportation link for the island's 1,000 residents. Farmers could transport their rice harvest to markets on the mainland, and islanders could access essential services and goods. The bridge was also a popular tourist destination, offering a unique and scenic way to explore the Cambodian countryside.

The bridge was constructed entirely of bamboo, a readily available and sustainable resource in Cambodia. Local craftspeople used traditional techniques to lash together thousands of bamboo poles, creating a sturdy and surprisingly stable structure. The bridge was wide enough to accommodate pedestrians, motorbikes, and even small cars.

Every year, when the Mekong River rose during the wet season, the bridge was dismantled and stored away. The bamboo would then be reused the following year to rebuild the bridge. This cycle of construction and deconstruction continued for many years, becoming a cherished tradition for the local people.

In 2017, a permanent concrete bridge was built across the Mekong River near the site of the bamboo bridge. As a result, the annual construction of the bamboo bridge is no longer necessary for transportation purposes. However, a smaller pedestrian-only version of the bamboo bridge continues to be built each year, primarily as a tourist attraction and to preserve this unique cultural tradition.

Here are some additional facts about the Kampong Cham Bamboo Bridge:

Construction typically took about two months, using around 50,000 bamboo poles.

The bridge was a major tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world.

The bridge was featured in a number of documentaries and travel articles.

The smaller, pedestrian-only version of the bridge is still a popular spot for photos and offers stunning views of the Mekong River.

The Kampong Cham Bamboo Bridge is a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Cambodian people. It is a symbol of their deep connection to their land and their traditions. Even though it is no longer the longest bamboo bridge in the world, it remains an important part of Cambodian culture and a reminder of the importance of sustainability and tradition.

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