30 May 2019
With its long white sand beach and wooden bridge leading to a straw hut above the water, Ta Barang (Ptranslated as French grandpa) is a private beach that has experienced almost overnight success after thousands of Facebook users shared photos of it.
Stepping down from a dark green Jeep, 68-year-old Puth Chantaravuth sports a white beard, dirty T-shirt and pants. He is walking around collecting litter in the beach’s parking lot.
“I used to live in France from the age of 22, so when I came back here people called me bong barang [French brother], pu barang [French uncle], oum barang [French older uncle] and now ta barang,” the owner of the resort says.
Ta Barang is located in Keo Phos commune’s Rithy II village in 1ha of land that Chantaravuth bought more than two decades ago.
The Cambodian-Frenchman, who formerly worked for Royal Air Cambodge before it closed in 2001, tells The Post: “In 1997 I bought this land to build my own house to live with my wife because I love the sea air. I’ve developed it step-by-step and it suddenly became a hit on Facebook recently. Before, there were a few visitors who came here, but it was not famous.”
Chantaravuth says that during Khmer New Year the beach welcomed far more visitors than it ever has done before.
“In the Khmer New Year holiday, there were so many people who came in. I can’t estimate the exact number but at least 500 people. It was a lot,” he says.
Chantaravuth explains that his resort recently found fame after a chance encounter with a motorbike group.
“What has brought fame to this beach is a motorbike group who were visiting from Prei Nub. They came here, interviewed me and posted it on Facebook. They said the water is good, the beach colour is white and their kids can play around,” he says.
Chantaravuth has built six huts along the beach for guests to stay in, as well as a long wooden pier leading to a hut sitting on stilts in the ocean that is also available to rent.
But with the number of visitors now outstripping the facilities available, Chantaravuth says this success may have come too late as he now feels too old to expand the resort.