A man made an unconventional choice, leaving behind his master’s degree in business administration to pursue a different path.
His newfound passion led him to collect a diverse array of vintage items, including a mortar and a fish oil lamp, some of which date back more than six decades.
These relics now adorn his Khmer-style house, where he ingeniously incorporated more than 100 windows into its walls, without the use of traditional boards.
This unique traditional-style house, featuring a tiled roof and walls constructed from assembled windows, can be found in Ponsang commune’s Tuol village in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district.
Kim Kinal shares with The Post that his roots trace back to the humble rural life of Takeo province’s Bati district. He is a father to a young son and a 13-year-old daughter.
While from modest beginnings, he managed to complete Grade 12 in the capital, before going on to earn a master’s degree in business administration in 2007.
But despite his academic qualifications, he found himself drawn to the idea of preserving antiques.
Not only did he amass a collection of vintage items, but he also harbours a desire to protect traditional Khmer houses from fading into obscurity.
“I purchased the house with the intention of restoring it to its original state.
“Over time, I’ve gathered an assortment of vintage items that were once commonplace but have since become unfamiliar to today’s generation. It appears younger people are unaware of these historical artefacts,” Kinal explains.
He says that his motivation to acquire and preserve these items arises from his desire to protect remnants of the past, as many of these objects are becoming increasingly rare.
Furthermore, his deep connection to these objects is rooted in his upbringing. Growing up in a family of farmers, he became intimately familiar with these items in his daily life, and his affection for them persists to this day.
He notes that many of the things he collects held significant utility in the past, which is why he began acquiring them from people in his village and distant locations.
Since the conclusion of 2019, he has been dedicated to procuring and conserving antiques, amassing nearly 30 distinct types.
He elaborates that a range of vintage items, including fish oil lamps, rice mills, petroleum lamps, foot-powered mortars, copper bowls and foreign-made items such as record players, radios and cameras, are on display both inside and beneath the traditional house on his property in Tuol village.
The house he constructed measures 11m in width and 15m in length, an amalgamation of four houses in the Keng style, characterised by dual roofs.
To form the walls, he ingeniously employed over 100 windows salvaged from dismantled old houses, contributing to the preservation of these historical elements. Additionally, he repurposed a tiled roof from a previous generation.
Kinal has named it the “100 Window House”.
His inspiration for building it was deeply rooted in his desire to conserve traditional houses like the one from his childhood after seeing a trend in which many wooden houses were being dismantled and replaced by concrete structures and villas.
“I acquired vintage wooden houses and combined them using traditional Khmer architectural style. To form the walls of the house, I procured windows from diverse sources, including dismantled French-era structures.
“In total, I incorporated more than 100 windows into the wall construction,” he details.
He said that he constructed the house in 2020, but it serves exclusively as a showcase for his collection of vintage items. Visitors learn of his address through social media and word of mouth.
Kinal notes that he typically welcomes around 50 to 60 visitors on an average day, while on weekends, particularly Saturdays and Sundays, the numbers can swell to as many as 100 to 200 visitors.
There is no entrance fee; instead, he kindly asks visitors to support his family by purchasing coffee or drinks during their visit.
When asked about the total cost of amassing this collection of items, Kinal says while he isn’t certain of the exact figure, he would estimating it to be in the range of tens of thousands of dollars.
Visitors of all ages, from students to middle-aged and even the elderly, visit the premises, witht he students often inquiring about the names and backgrounds of each object.
Alongside the varied items, he also showcases a 1965 Vespa motorcycle, two Honda Super Cub motorcycles from 1979 and a CD70 motorcycle manufactured in 1991.
Regarding the exhibition of vintage items, Tuol village chief Vorn Don says he regularly observes people visiting the house, often documenting their experiences by taking videos and photos.
“I believe that showcasing these items serves as a vital means for the younger generation to acquaint themselves with these artefacts, whether they of Cambodian or foreign origin.
“It’s not solely the younger generation – even people in their middle age may not be familiar with all these objects,” he says.