With winning competitors making their way upstream to the start after winning their first heat, the weather could not have been better. I took this photo from a privileged area set aside for “foreigners.”
Laying eyes on the king may have been the top highlight among the many joys of Bon Om Touk, Cambodia’s annual three-day Water Festival.
Apparently the deaths of 353 souls during a stampede in 2010 was the chief reason for the absence of shoulder-to-shoulder throngs. It also reduced the number of boats competing in races along the river, called Tonle Sap, in front of the Royal Palace. (The year 2014 was the last time the event was held because of the tragedy, excessive flooding, the death of the last king and political confrontations.)
Another possible explanation would be the many blocks of streets closed to vehicular traffic and the mandatory unloading of buses and other large passenger vehicles at great distances from the Riverside neighborhood. That area, which happens to be especially popular with expats, is where the festivities were concentrated.
In any case, predictions turned out to be wildly wrong about how many folks would journey to the capital from the provinces, 2 million of them, according to officials, as opposed to reportedly 100,000 the first day and subsequently growing.
Whatever the cause, I never expected Continue reading