Despite of Low Incomes, Shaved Ice Business Support My Life Since 1988: Seller Says

Shaved ice seller Iach has spent his 35 years selling shaved ice despite earning a very low income. Photo: ThmeyThmey

PHNOM PENH – Shaved ice seller Iach has spent his 35 years selling shaved ice despite earning a very low income. 

Now 54 years old, Iach is still selling shaved ice for a living . Every 7am in the morning, he waits for ice delivery and breaks ice into the suitable size for easily shaving. He sells shaved ice in Sangkat Stung Meanchey III. 

“I have been selling shaved ice since I was 19 years old. Although I could not earn much from this small business, at least I could support my family,” Iach said. 

Iach sells a cup of shaved ice for 1,000 riels until the ice runs out around 6pm. 

As shaved ice becomes less favorable among people at all ages, there are only 1-2 sellers selling shaved ice at Sangkat Stung Meanchey III. 

Iach said most dessert sellers now use shaved ice making various desserts. 

To make a cup of shaved ice, he uses basil seeds, shaved ice syrup, and condensed milk for topping. He does not use any sugar syrup as he already mixed shaved ice syrup with sugar before he started selling. 

Incomes from selling vary depending on the weather. If the weather is hot, he can earn more income. If it rains, he earns less. On average, he earns 30,000 riels per day. 

Iach uses bicycles as a transportation means to sell shaved ice. So far, he has been using six bikes in total and the last one is called PHOENIX. This PHOENIX bike is older than his age. 

In this small business, cups, pipes, and spoons are all plastics. However, there is only one regular customer bringing his/her own plate to put shaved ice to decrease the usage of plastic. 

When he first sold shaved ice in 1988, he used wooden spoons but customers complained ice made their shirts dirty when it melted. 


Originally written in Khmer for ThmeyThmey, this story was translated by Rin Ousa for Cambodianess.

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