Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PPenh closes another festival

PPenh closes another festival

PPenh closes another festival

2-story-114.jpg
2-story-114.jpg

Some revellers say better public order made for a more memorable

celebration, but a major upset at the boat races has wrecked the year

for one rowing crew

Photo by:
Sovann Philong

A young boy sits on the Phnom Penh riverbank Wednesday night, watching a Water Festival fireworks display on the second night of celebrations.

THE last dragon boats had crossed the finish line and the blare of the race announcer's voice over the speaker system had disappeared under the din of a city partying out the final few hours of this year's Water Festival.

As the last concussion of the final burst of fireworks faded, Knol Samkol had only one complaint.

"I thought everything was great, but they only shot off fireworks for a few minutes," she said, standing amid the throng of party goers, talking loudly over the discord of wailing sirens and competing variety shows being played from multiple stages around the riverfront.

"Last year they launched fireworks for about an hour," the 27-year-old, who had traveled to Phnom Penh from Prey Veng province, added.

Other visitors from the countryside commented on the more orderly nature of this year's festival, saying city officials had done a good job of curbing the chaos that often overtook previous celebrations, when millions of people descended on the city and partied unfettered for three days.

Better than before

"I come to join this ceremony every year, but I think this year I was happier than others because everything was so well organised, even the public parks," said Battambang native Ros Veasna, referring to the open spaces that had before become impromptu tent villages for crowds of rural folk with nowhere to stay.

"There is a difference between this year and before."

I HAD HOPED WE WOULD KEEP OUR NUMBER ONE PLACE BUT WE LOST.

City officials before the festival sought to "beautify" the city's riverside neighbourhoods in anticipation of the coming crowds. But their sometimes heavy-handed approach earned them criticism from rights groups, which said homeless people and other undesirables were simply being detained, out of sight.
For Knol Samkol, city officials simply did not offer enough distractions beyond the obvious boats races and kerb-side shopping.

"The government should try to develop more for people to do during the Water Festival," she said.

Major upset

This year saw a major upset among the dragon boat heavies, with a 10-year winning streak by the Kirivong Sok Senchey being broken in the championship race.

"We never dared to think we would win against that boat, but after we beat 84 others, we took the No 1 prize," said Ly Phal, a 33-year-old rower on the Preah Tineang Chang Han Hoy Sen Chestda, which took first place this year.

"I can bring honour back to my province and we will try to keep our No 1 place in the coming years," said the Kandal province native.

The Kirivong's manager, Oum Chhun Streng, was dumbstruck. "I never thought my boat would get second place because we are faster," he said.

"I had hoped we would keep our No 1 place, but we lost, and I really don't know why," he added. "Maybe we have some mistakes with our technique."

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen rejects ‘rift’ rumours spread by ‘stupid gangsters’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday denied a “rift” among top leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), and rejected claims that Senate president Say Chhum and Interior Minister Sar Kheng were set to be removed from their positions as rumours spread by “gangsters”.

  • Huge 3.5-tonne ivory haul seized in capital

    Working with US officials, Phnom Penh Autonomous Port has uncovered almost 3.5 tonnes of elephant ivory hidden in a container, the US Embassy in Cambodia said on Facebook on Saturday. A tip-off provided to the General Department of Customs and Excise by a US Fish and

  • EU ambassador to Cambodia: Rights a ‘work in progress’

    The EU ambassador to Cambodia has called human rights “a work in progress” and said the 28-nation bloc has “carefully” noted last week’s statement by the government on taking further steps to strengthen democracy and the political sphere in the Kingdom. The EU marked

  • Assembly passes amendment to Political Party Law Article 45

    The National Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved a proposed amendment to Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties in a move that could pave the way for former senior opposition leaders banned for five years to return to the political stage. As expected, the 115 ruling