Cambodia Travel Guide

Oct 24, 2008

Water Festival Phnom Penh


Right after last year's Water Festival the river front in Phnom Penh changed dramatically. A Japanese firm is working on the capital's draining system and therefor large parts of the riverfront were sealed off with a green fence. When the works started, it was promised these fences would be removed for the next Water Festival.

Not so. Instead of taking the fences down, the municipality has decided to replace them with small-holed netting fences. So, spectators will not be able to see the boat races on the Tonle Sap from up close. And just this year the Ministry of Tourism has spend 350,000 dollars on CNN spots to promote the 'Water and Moon Festival'. Great planning guys!

I think these small-holed netting fences are dangerous. The Cambodian authorities apparently have never heard of the Hillsborough stadium disaster in Liverpool where in 1989 football fans died when they were pressed up against the fence. Mind you, the annual Water Festival in Phnom Penh attracts about 1 million visitors per day (it lasts for 3 days). Yes, that's right: 1 million. Now imagine these people want to see the boat races from up close and they can't because of this fence. What will happen?

While the Water Festival normally is a colourful event, I would for this year not advice anyone to come. And next year, because the drainage works will last for at least three years.

Wait untill 2010 when Phnom Penh's river front will be restored to its former beauty.

Or so they promise...

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