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Travel, Teach, Live in Asia

A Gigantic Street Party, the Cambodia Water Festival!
By:Fred Tittle

The Mekong River, one of the most famous of all the rivers in the world, starts off in China and makes its way through Laos and Vietnam; but for Cambodia it is many things including a sense of wonder as the Mekong goes in two directions every year. When the Moon is right, and it reverts to behaving like a regular river, they have the biggest party of the year in Phnom Penh, the water festival.

The main attraction is the boat races. This year 400 teams competed for bragging rights and a small purse. They come from all the provinces and cities and it is a right of passage for many towards being accepted as a man in the local village or province. The boats are long low and fast with up to 50 oarsmen stroking steadily to the thump, thump, thump the coxswain demands at the front.

For most holidays in Cambodia the people leave Phnom Penh but for the water festival they all come to Phnom Penh this year an estimated 3 million people attended and like the boats they come from everywhere in the country. Near the palace it is nearly impossible to walk as the streets are so crowed with revelers. Street vendors do great business selling everything from corn on the cob, to an assorted mix of unrecognizable bugs and slugs for the hungry, to balloons and toys for the kids.

The rain fall in the monsoon season is so heavy that it overwhelms the rivers ability to drain into the ocean, so it backs up and fills up the Tonle Sap Lake, which is in a very real sense the heart of the country. The Tonle Sap becomes one of the largest fresh water lakes in Asia, and if full of fish, which accounts for 60% of the protein consumed in Cambodia. It is also an amazing aviary with 300 species of birds and some very exotic and endangered animals like the Irrawaddy Dolphin, one of the two fresh water dolphins species. It also contains the humongous Mekong Giant Catfish of which experts say only a few hundred might exist today, which can grow to almost 3 meters long and way more than 400 lbs.

Held during the full moon in November it makes the beginning of the dry season in Cambodia which goes from roughly Oct 15 to April 15. The beginning of the monsoon is celebrated by Khmer New Year another major event on the Khmer calendar and another countywide party that you might want to put on your party schedule.

Fred Tittle has lived and worked in holiday vacation resorts his entire life, from Lake Geneva's Playboy Club, as a rock jock for KSPN FM in Aspen Colorado, he became a PADI Pro Scuba Diver in Hawaii, diving on Maui, Kauai, Kona on the big island, and Waikiki on Oahu. He founded Eco Adventures South East Asia in Sihanoukville Cambodia. he still teaches SSI and PADI scuba diving courses and runs liveaboards in the gulf of Thailand and Asia adventure tours, http://www.ecosea.com

Fred's new project http://www.CheapCharliesHotels.com where he reviews cheap hotels , budget guesthouses, discount accommodations and cheap international flights, but is really an excuse to go scuba diving on vacation more, Fred is in Phnom Penh Cambodia planning his next adventure travel tour. Keep up to date with Fred go to http://www.CheapCharliesHotels.com/blog/

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