Festival ends on a high note

King Norodom Sihamoni waves to crowds yesterday.
King Norodom Sihamoni waves to crowds yesterday. Heng Chivoan

Festival ends on a high note

Crowds more than triple on final day of Water Festival, City Hall says

Third day of races wrapped up the formal part of Cambodia’s Water Festival yesterday – and a number of high-ranking officials were left enjoying the spoils of success after vessels they sponsored were winners.

As crowds to the city more than tripled following the low numbers of the first two days, King Sihamoni presented awards to some of the victors.

The eight winning teams, out of more than 240 boats, received their awards based on overall racing performance or design and appearance.

As is the case most years, a boat sponsored by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An was named one of the fastest.

Other award winners included boats sponsored by Interior Minister Sar Kheng, Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong and Chairman of the National Authority for Land Dispute and Resolution Bin Chhin.

But Yim Dip, 29, who rowed on the Kheng-sponsored vessel, said his team’s award was purely the result of hard work.

“We rarely hear the word failure in our team,” he said. “We’ve won because our boat is the most beautiful.”

Not so lucky this year were boats carrying the name of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Of all the boats that entered, 58 per cent carried the name “Senchey” – a reference to the premier. But only one of them picked up an award – and it was sponsored by An.

After a slow start, crowds appeared to grow yesterday. Young people especially were out enjoying the live entertainment, street stalls and sideshows.

Long Dimanche, City Hall spokesman, estimated on Thursday that crowds were only at about 300,000. He was confident that numbers had grown yesterday.

“Nearly one million people have come to the city today,” he said. “But just because the boats have finished, it does not mean it is over. People will still come and enjoy the festival tonight.”

Sary, 55, a porridge vendor renting space outside the Supreme Court, was hoping for a late run of customers.

“On the first day, I could not make a profit. Then the second day, I earn little bit,” she said. “But this last day, I had many customers. I hope to keep selling until midnight, because I have to pay $100 rent.”

As of late yesterday, more than 5,000 people had received medical treatment, said municipal health director Sok Sokun.

“Only two people have been sent to Calmette. Our officials have been on high alert after 2010,” he said, referring to the stampede that killed 353 people.

Additional reporting by May Titthara and Shane Worrell

MOST VIEWED

  • Government set to slash holidays

    The private sector has welcomed the government’s move to reduce the number of public holidays in the in the Kingdom – known for having the most public holidays in the world – by seven days. However, the government had just added the “Day of Remembrance” on

  • Kith Theang being held in PJ prison

    Kith Theang, the brother of prominent businessman Kith Meng, was charged by Phnom Penh Municipal Court late on Monday and sent to the capital’s Police Judiciare (PJ) prison over the nearly 50kg of drugs found in a February 23 raid by authorities on the Rock

  • Farmers told not to plant next rice crop

    THE Ministry of Environment has told Cambodian rice farmers to refrain from planting crops in the midst of a drought heightened by record temperatures due to this year’s El Nino phenomenon. Temperatures are expected to peak in April and May. “Every year, [farmers usually]

  • Phay Siphan: Preah Sihanouk will become a second Singapore

    Government spokesman Phay Siphan said on Monday that Preah Sihanouk province will become a second Singapore, as authorities were warned that its development, fuelled largely by Chinese investment, was coming at a cost to locals. Siphan was speaking at a press conference after a seminar