This week is a better time than any to pull a sickie at work and book a bus ticket to coastal Sihanoukville.
Hundreds of brightly costumed children, circus acts, traditional performers and musicians will liven the streets of Sihanoukville in a four-day motor parade this week to promote safe driving.
Khmarnaval, “the Khmer version of a carnival”, is all about bringing fun to the streets, but with an important message, according to Bob Passion, one of the organisers.
“Have you ever driven in Cambodia?” Passion asks in justification for this year’s theme of safe driving.
Passion works for M’Lop Tapang, an NGO that helps street kids in Sihanoukville.
“Before, we were more into AIDS awareness and child rights, but our kids are growing up and getting bicycles and motorbikes, so we need to tell them to take care,” he says.
Khmarnaval, back on the streets for its seventh year in a row, is an initiative of M’Lop Tapang that is supported by big boys such as ANZ Royal, Total, Ezecom and Cambodia Airports.
The parade will open with a live concert by the Kampot Playboys on Wednesday night, and the festival will run until Saturday.
The three days of Khmarnaval 2012 will include colourful parades of trucks and motorbikes that have been painted by children at M’Lop Tapang, traditional performances by street kids and concerts by international and local musicians.
“We have seven trucks and 50 motorbikes decorated and ready to cruise the city. The shows and concerts we’ve prepared are oriented around our theme of safe driving.”
Khmarnaval will draw to an end with a live concert by Cambodia’s favourite reggae-dub band, Dub Addiction, on Saturday night.
“This is not something that can be compared with sitting back, having a drink and listening to a DJ,” says Passion.
“Just by the number of participants we have involved, this is the biggest street event in Cambodia.”
After the carnival, the M’Lop Tapang crew will hop on up to Phnom Penh for 10 days of more shows and arts projects to further communicate safe driving to children at Pour Un Sourire d’Enfant.