Boat racing and Fireworks in Phnom PenhNovember 15, 2016 in Cambodia ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C
Today was out second full day in Phnom Penh, and having been to the emotionally heavy sites of Khmer Rouge atrocities yesterday, we were looking for something a bit lighter today. It was also the third and final day of the Water Festival, the culmination of a huge party for the locals.
Setting out from our hotel, we dropped off some washing to be cleaned and folded, before heading to the waterfront and walking north. As we had left early, the racing associated with the Water Festival hadn't yet started, but there was still a lot to see along the embankment, as street sellers set up their shops, and families picniced on the grassy verges.
Eventually we arrived at Wat Phnom, a buddhist temple built on a wee hill, in the middle of a roundabout. Walking to the top, there were quite a few locals there, perhaps as a result of the Water Festival. For them it was an incredibly religious affair. For us, considerably less so.
Next, we headed to the central market, Psar Thmey. The idea was to book a bus to Siem Reap, but we weren't able to find the ticket office. We did manage to have a wander through the market itself, and found a great many wonders. The seafood section was particularly interesting. So many different fish, so many different snails, so many different crabs and lobsters,
Feeling a bit hot and sweaty, we headed back to the hotel for a half-day shower, and then headed out again to watch the finale of the Water Festival's racing, and secure our seat for the fireworks show that night. We watched about hour hours of racing, which was pretty exciting at times. Watching about 100 people paddle a boat at speed is spectacular, and it amazed us that despite all of the bouncing and flexxing of the boat hulls, they didn't ever split in two. Other excitement for the day: one of the two judges boats at the finish sank, and one of the crews on one of the racing boats had a fit and was carried to the hospital tent, by a sea of his teammates. If he had been conscious, it would have been one of the bext crowdsurfing moves ever. Unfortunately, this poor man was not doing too well.
After a few hours, we managed to find Gauthier in the mess of people at the tourists' tent, and sat down on the embankment itself, to be a bit closer to the action. As the racing finished, the winners were presented with medals by the King / Crown Prince (not sure which of the two it was), before they paraded up the river carrying the Royal swords, and standard. And then, as the day turned to night, the fireworks began.
We were pretty close to the fireworks barge, so had a very good view. THe view was so good in fact, that we could see the men running around on the barge lighting the fuses of all the fireworks. Whoever they were, they were very brave indeed.
When the fireworks were over, we had dinner at a restaurant staffed by disaffected youth being trained in hospitality. After dinner, there was time for a few drinks, and then it was time for bed.Read more