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Thousands throng to riverside as races start

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AFP

Dragon boat racers power their vessels down the Tonle Sap Tuesday as the first day of Water Festival racing got under way.

Celebrations make treasured memories for participants, spectators

FOR 48-year-old Veu Mai, Tuesday's trip to Phnom Penh was her first trip to the capital since she was a child.

"During previous Water Festivals, I saw a lot of people who came to visit Phnom Penh," she said. "So I saved my money for nearly a year to visit myself this time."

Like millions of others, the Siem Reap province native helped kicked off Cambodia's largest-ever Water Festival celebration with a day full of revelry and even a public appearance by King Norodom Sihamoni, who late in the afternoon took centre stage with a host of other Cambodian notables, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, to toast the thousands of boatmen who have helped make this one of the Kingdom's most famous attractions.

"I am really happy when I see so many people," Veu Mai said.

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