Thousands of visitors from Thailand are expected to converge on the Cambodian coastal town of Koh Kong across the border to soak up the conviviality of the three-day Sea Festival opening today, offering the local population a hugely significant annual event spiced with cultural, culinary and sporting experiences.
Launched three years ago in the port city of Sihanoukville to mark Cambodia’s membership of the elite 1,000 Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club, the Sea Festival has attained the cultural importance that is traditionally attached to other special annual celebratory events in the national calendar.
Koh Kong is the second busiest border post between Cambodia and Thailand and it is this unique location that is attracting Thais living in close-by villages and towns. Small-scale traders in their hundreds from across the border have already set up shops in the otherwise sparsely populated town alongside local businesses.
“We are expecting the largest ever turnout. The biggest problem for visitors is finding places to stay – most of the guest houses are fully booked well in advance,” National Olympic Committee of Cambodia secretary general Vath Chamroeun told the Post yesterday.
“That apart, we could still see more visitors to Koh Kong than we had in Sihanoukville and second edition hosts Kep and Kampot.
“Respect for the sea, marine life and the environment is the main message we would like to convey through this festival – the theme of which is most aptly ‘Blue Sea and Green City’,” added Vath Chamroeun.
Apart from a Duathlon and fun run (3 kilometres and 5 kilometres), the festival features traditional wrestling, beach volleyball, Cambodian chess, bokator and cycling with normal bikes. For sea adventure seekers, there will be jet skiing, paragliding and open water swimming.
Away from the thrills and spills of sport, there will be food courts all over to appease the taste buds. On offer will be a wide variety of local food with multi-national cuisine thrown in.