Water Festival 2023 – #2

The Water Festival is BIG. 2.5 million people come to Phnom Penh for the boat races stretched over three days.
This drone shot gives a good idea what the boats are like. Notice in the pink and light blue boats that more than half the crew are standing, to be more vigorous in paddling. It takes a really big boat to allow standing.

[The photos are from the Khmer Times newspaper.]

Water Festival 2023


Today (Sunday) and Monday and Tuesday are the three official holidays for the Water Festival held each year at the full moon in November when the Tonle Sap River reverses its flow. Long boats, paddled by 30 to 90 men, race for three days river in front of the royal palace.

2.5 million people from other parts of Cambodia come to Phnom Penh for the festival, the national celebration second only to the Khmer New Year. Here at 9:00 o’clock in the morning, families are walking toward the riverfront. They could take tuk-tuks only so far and then the streets are blocked and they must proceed on foot.
This father takes his three daughters to the riverfront on his motorcycle. He’s probably wondering how close he can get to the water and where he is going to park.
These tourists are part of a group of ten or twelve being carried to the scene of the action by cyclo.
This woman is setting up her cart for a long day of selling bags of popcorn and cotton candy.
This vendor finds customers for small clams to crack and eat while the boy on the left struggles to set up his offering of some sort of fried bread.
Hat sellers do a good business with everyone being out in the sun all day long.

Human Rights for the Deaf 4

The training for judges and prosecutors working with people with disabilities was organized by the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights (or UN Human Rights). It was held at the Angkor Paradise Hotel which seemed to have five or six UN and NGO meetings going on while still accommodating hordes of tourists come to see Angkor Wat.

The Angkor Paradise Hotel is a beautiful facility but much of its beauty comes from its (over) use of luxury woods native to Cambodia, one of its treasures.

The hotel lobby exhibited the characteristic Cambodia display of wooden furniture, figures, and objects.
The shops in the lobby were accented by massive wooden stools. Imagine the huge luxury trees sacrificed to provide these five incredibly heavy wooden decorations in the corridor.

Another section of the lobby.
Wooden chairs and a carving worth thousands of dollars decorate one of the passageways. These chairs are really unusual because they are padded! I have never seen that in 23 years here. For me one of the curses of Cambodia is sitting in a doctor’s waiting room with these huge wooden chairs, designed for a Cambodian sense of beauty and not for comfort.
The Angkor Paradise Hotel has a beautiful pool.
And of course the pool furniture is more of the heavy wooden style.

Barefoot Buddhist

This is something you don’t often see now–a barefoot monk on his begging rounds in the morning. It used to be that all monks were barefoot as they went through the neighborhoods but now they almost all wear sandals. I don’t know if it’s modernization or maybe a response to paving the streets. When I came there were only five paved streets in Phnom Penh but the photo shows what the city is like now.

Musica Felice (October)

Twice a year, Musica Felice, a musical and choral group founded and directed by Ms. Miwako Fujiwara, presents benefit concerts at the Sofitel, a 5-star hotel in Phnom Penh. This October performance benefited the Deaf Development Programme.

We arrived early and it gave our students some time to explore and look around the lobby of the grand ballroom. For almost all of them, it was their first experience in a five-star hotel.
We had reserved seats at the front where the deaf people had good visibility, and when we gathered at our seats, Miwako came over to welcome us!
The grand ballroom just before the lights dimmed for the opening.
At the intermission Miwako had arranged for each of the students to get a croissant or other pastry.
This concert didn’t have the videos and visual effects of some previous performances, but in the second half, featuring music from Les Miserables, the singers wore costumes and staged some of the settings for the lyrics.
At the end all our students marched up to the stage as part of a finale, and then they gathered for photos with the cast and with Miwako. The deaf students really couldn’t enjoy the music but it was a real learning experience for them.

Coming up….

For serious Christians, the upcoming Holy Week may be part of their thinking and planning. Palm Sunday is next Sunday and the beginning of the special and holy for belivers in Jesus. For most Cambodians, however, what is coming up and is on their minds is the Khmer New Year, April 13-15.

Here are some DDP students and a staff member from the Deaf Community Center practicing a traditional dance that uses dried coconut shells to make a clacking sound.


Over the past few years, as I have aged I have developed spots or lesions on the skin that the dermatologist said could develop into skin cancer. He recommended removing them with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy). Here are some photos from my last visit to the dermatologist which also give some glimpses of Cambodian medical culture.

I usually try to get to the doctor early in the morning. This doctor starts at 7:30 AM. Because of Covid, he moved his waiting area out on to the sidewalk, and even though Covid is much less a concern now, his patients still wait on the street.
This is inside the real waiting room. Notice the heavy, luxury-wood chairs. They are a sign in every business that you “have arrived,” that you are successful. They certainly don’t contribute anything to comfort. I bet your doctor doesn’t have fine chairs like these! The picture on the wall is the dermatologist with his wife (also a doctor) with the prime minister.
This is the rest of the waiting room. Notice all the wooden chairs and statues and other objects.
This is a cryotherapy gun that shoots liquid nitrogen on to the spot or mark to be removed. The temperature of the nitrogen in the gun is -320ºF!