Cambodia’s first Retro Museum: Peek at unique antiques!

Ly Pengheng has a passion that borders on obsession. From humble beginnings as a collector of odds and ends, Pengheng has transformed his love for the past into something remarkable: the first retro museum in Cambodia.

Venture down a dusty road in Siem Reap‘s Trapaing Ses village, and you’ll stumble upon a vibrant yellow edifice — the unmistakable beacon of the Vimean Sokha Museum. Newly opened, this haven promises visitors a trip back in time.

Step inside, and you’re greeted by a nostalgic panorama: vintage bicycles like the 125 Bentley and Honda C92, relics from the late 1950s and early 1960s, proudly on display. Gasoline-powered bicycles, reminiscent of a bygone era, stand as silent witnesses to history.

Glass cabinets line the museum’s interior, each containing treasures from yesteryears. Cameras, oil lamps, toys, instruments, typewriters—a kaleidoscope of human ingenuity spanning centuries. Among the rarities, a Leica III camera from 1936, ship telescopes used by seafaring captains centuries ago, and the iconic brick phone from the 1980s evoke waves of nostalgia.

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For visitors like Yarin, each artifact is a portal to personal memories. “This Velosolex Bike really brings back memories,” he reminisces. “In the ’60s, I worked in a Phnom Penh factory that manufactured these. I even owned one until it was taken during the Khmer Rouge evacuation.”

In the museum’s courtyard, Pengheng meticulously tends to a 1938 V1010 Volkswagen—a prized possession once owned by Cambodian music legend Sinn Sisamouth. It’s a testament to Pengheng’s lifelong dedication to preserving history.

Affectionately dubbed “crazy grandpa” by locals, Pengheng’s journey began in 1998, amid the fading echoes of Cambodia’s civil war. Inspired by a visit to a museum in Vietnam, he resolved to fill the void of vintage preservation in his homeland.

Starting with classic cars and transitioning to motorcycles, Pengheng’s collection grew exponentially. Despite initial challenges and occasional setbacks, his passion remained unwavering, fueled by a supportive spouse and an unyielding determination.

Today, the Vimean Sokha Museum stands as a testament to Pengheng’s vision. Its virtual doors have attracted visitors from far and wide, drawn by the allure of nostalgia and the promise of a unique experience.

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As Pengheng dreams of Guinness recognition and economic contribution through tourism, one thing remains clear: his pursuit of the past is a labor of love—a testament to the enduring power of human memory and the timeless appeal of history.

Tom Starkey
Author: Tom Starkey

Tom Starkey is an International Development graduate from Sussex University with 12-years of experience across 4 continents, Tom's goal is that he wants to showcase his love for Cambodia, where he lives, works and now happily calls home.

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