Building a fence in Siem Reap

So you’ve completed your move to a nice big Cambodian style house, and you got it for a knockdown price, but there is just one problem: it needs a bit of work done. You were braced for this before you moved in, even excited by the prospect but now you are actually there, you realize that your DIY skills never really progressed past building Lego houses as a child.

The list of jobs is not overly intimidating as none of them involve any major plumbing or wiring expertise, but they do require some planning and the acquisition of appropriate materials. You may be tempted to just find a local that can do the work for you but there is no denying the sense of pride you will feel when your carefully constructed DIY masterplan becomes a reality.

Building a fence in Siem Reap

It’s both easier and harder than you might think.

After moving to a more rural existence in Siem Reap, we realized we’d need to put up a fence in order to gain slightly more privacy from the neighbors and stop the constant stream of chickens and feral dogs from pooping all over our garden. Barbed wire makes an effective barricade and a 30-kilo roll will set you back around $40. Don’t be put off if you are asked to buy the whole lot, even if you only need 20 kilos, as unfurling barbed wire is no walk in the park. Most places will be happy to refund you for what you don’t use, but be sure to clarify this beforehand. We bought ours from the well-stocked and friendly hardware store beside the bridge, a quarter mile down the road after making the right turn at Le Meridian on the road to Angkor Wat. The store also has a plentiful supply of PVC pipe, plumbing supplies, various wires, tools and chain link fence.

If barbed wire reminds you too much of prison and doesn’t afford you the privacy you require then you can always use wood, or even rolls of threaded bamboo to make your fence. On High School Road there are numerous wood/lumber yards but not all of them sell rolls of bamboo fence and not all of them speak enough English as to even entertain the notion of an actual transaction. For this reason it helps if you take someone who can speak Khmer, preferably a Khmer. A roll of threaded bamboo set us back $8 for a 1.5 metre high and 4.5 metre long roll and was considerably less work than constructing the fence from planks of wood.

For nails, wire, screws, etc. you can visit the aforementioned store or, alternatively you can head to Psar Chas. The hardware store opposite Warehouse is smaller and less widely stocked but still sells all kind of hardware treats to assist you. Nails and screws are charged by the kilo and finishing stains for woods and some small power tools can also be bought from these guys as well as hammers, screwdrivers, paint brushes, locks, hinges etc., etc., etc.

So, having acquired my fence-building kit (50 meters of bamboo fence, a healthy roll of wire, a kilo of 2 inch long nails, a hammer and a set of pliers) I was ready to go. The barbed wire and wood staked fence was already in place so unrolling and nailing the fence up was time consuming but straight-forward. I then re-enforced it by attaching the bamboo fence to the barbed wire using the regular wire and then tightened it with the pliers. It took two days and cost just over $100. A bit more expensive than a Lego set but just as fun to make.

We may not win any awards for innovation or style, but the shabby yet charming appearance of our new fence blends in nicely with the Cambodian neighborhood and we are also very happy that our lovely garden is no longer moonlighting as a public toilet for dogs.

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