Neak Luong is perhaps the most important Mekong River crossing point in Cambodia. Once almost?
Neak Luong is perhaps the most important Mekong River crossing point in Cambodia. Once almost a ghost town following bitter fighting between South Vietnamese and communist forces, Neak Luong has recently been undergoing a business boom which has reportedly brought it past its previous position. That this is so is a result of its strategic position.
Neak Luong was captured by South Vietnamese Marines from Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces in heavy fighting which wrecked much of the town. Most of the Cambodian population left and only Vietnamese and Chinese remained. Shops were closed in the wake of the fighting and trade was virtually brought to a standstill.
Now, however, the old shops have reopened and new ones have sprung up throughout Neak Luong. There are many roadside cafes and food is abundant. More foods are for sale than ever before - much of it black market materials which flow in from neighbouring South Vietnam.
The Cambodian people have returned to Neak Luong and Cambodian forces have come to take up positions in the area, joining the South Vietnamese Marines whose Cambodian headquarters are there. There is even a temporary prisoner of war camp in the central part of town.
Neak Luong is strategically important because it is for all practical purpose the Cambodian/South Vietnamese border town. As the principal ferry crossing it is vital to the Cambodian Government, because the Mekong River is itself necessary for Cambodia's defence. The Mekong is a primary means of access to the capital of Phnom Penh, and the ferry crossing is a vital artery between Saigon and Phnom Penh.