Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tonle Sap soak-in draws thousands to lake

Tonle Sap soak-in draws thousands to lake

Tonle Sap soak-in draws thousands to lake

Kampong Luong just after daybreak, vehicles from around the country carrying cheering

fun seekers begin rolling into this normally sleepy, floating fishing village on

the shores of the Tonle Sap Lake - annual P'chum Ben holiday water festivities have

begun.

As the morning sun rises above calm waters, taxi boat owners prepare their boats

for the onslaught as giggling local children, their hands dyed purple, green and

orange, fill bags of colored water to douse unsuspecting victims.

As the first boats make their way through the village, the ambush begins with bursts

of color hurled from the roof tops of floating houses.

Thousands of visitors - some from as far as Phnom Penh and Battambang - converge

on the open water just beyond the village to swim and enjoy boat races and water

fights.

Daredevils jump and do back flips from the water towers. When two boats converge

the air is filled with an artillery of flying water bombs and floating lake vegetation.

"This time of year the water is high so people come from around the country

to join the games," said Sin Soarith who has worked for the Ministry of Agriculture,

Forestry and Fishery in Kampong Luong since 1980. "It has been become a P'chum

Ben custom."

Kampong Luong is the biggest port onthe Tonle Sap and serves as a connection between

Phnom Penh and northern Cambodia. The village has been developing rapidly due to

a well managed fishing industry, said Soarith. A general prosperity can be seen in

the rows of immaculately kept houses and floating stores selling everything from

mobile phones to stereo systems.

As midday approaches, the restaurants open for business with the smell of seafood,

blaring music and Khmer dancing, drawing in the now multicolored crowds for a floating

lunch.

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