Water Festival 2008

Vichea- Phnom Penh’s coolest cat.

In comparison to last year’s Water Festival Holiday which was an absolute ripper, this year was a mixed time for us. Cash strapped and unenthused, we could not even make it down to Kampot for our uncle’s 100th day anniversary wake. With a week off work and Phnom Penh absolutely jam packed with just about the entire provincial population in town (papers were tipping 4 million visitors but that is ludicrous – see Jeff’s blog here for why), we hunkered down at home and watched DVD after DVD;

Step Brothers; Will Ferrell doing what he does best. Being an idiot. Some hilarious moments

Semi-Pro; Will Ferrell doing more of what he does best. Really REALLY lame.

The Quantum of Solace; After seeing the latest James Bond film flogged to death on TV, I really did not need to watch it as the shorts on AXN were so lengthy you basically got to watch all the action sequences. We had to return the movie 3 times before we got one that actually played without stopping and even then our copy would switch to Mandarin every so often. The film is absolute SHITE.

City of ghosts; Matt Dillon in a classic film loved by all of us who live here. I have already seen this film several times but I always pick something new up when I watch it again. This time I was more aware of Bernard from The Bike Shop playing the French guy who gets murdered and also was far more aware of the locations in Kampot and Kep. Great Stuff.

My uncle’s ashes !

Dinner at Phalla’s house with Srey May,Srey Pek,Srey Nut and Srey Nek

We went over to Phalla and Tra’s for a million beers and some bbq chicken and crabs one night and another night Tra, Phalla and Srey Nek and Srey Pek came over to our house for a nosh. We drank some nice red wine (Phalla drank a little too much and ended up driving the white porcelain bus – I did tell her not to scull it like beer ! ) and it was as always lovely to have family around. A hilarious overtone to the night was added by Tra who bought his newest DVD to watch while we ate – Air Supply Karaoke !

On Wednesday it was Srey Pek’s 13th birthday and I also found out that it had been Srey Neks 11th birthday on our wedding day ( which of course every body totally overlooked due to the wedding ) so Leakhana and I headed off to Russian Market to buy Birkenstocks ($5 a pair ) and swimsuits ( $4 each ) for the girls. They absolutely loved their gifts.

Birthday Birks for the girls

Happy 25th Birthday Maduranga !

Then over to Ang and Paul’s for a Water Festival BBQ and pool party and also Maduranga’s 25th birthday. The girls hit the pool with Srey Nek in floaties and Srey Pek on a small boogie board. I watched over the girls as neither of them can swim and they were having a ball splashing from one side of the pool to the other. Paul’s pool is a very treacherous one. It is a basic brick and tile construction and has a ledge running along one wall that is about one meter deep. If you step off that ledge, you are into 2.5m of water with no shallow. I was soon to find out just how treacherous that pool is.After a while, and with many others in the pool, I got out to check on the progress of the bbq which Paul had prepared with enough coals to conduct a funeral pyre. Something in my head went off like an alarm and I suddenly thought about the girls in the pool and thought “shit…I better have a look and see if they are ok”. Well…..the all I can say is fate and god have a funny way of operating because at the very moment I looked over I noticed Srey Pek with a horrible, panicked look on her face. She had lost the boogie board and was splashing violently as she tried to stay afloat. I saw her wave to her sister with the “come here” wave and then she went under. As I broke into a full sprint across the yard I saw Srey Nek jump in without her floaties on and she too went straight under. I knocked about three people out of the way and hurdled the pool edge in full flight and luckily Rupert realised what was happening and went in with me. We both scooped the girls up and swam them to the edge and both girls were spewing water and gasping for air. It was a truly mortifying moment and one I will never forget. Poor Srey Nek was in tears for an hour, I think from the shock of it all. She realised the seriousness of what had just happened and her heart must have been racing. I felt positively sick to the stomach at what almost might have been and I know Rupert was shaken as well because he had been right there in the pool and hadn’t noticed the girl’s predicament. It really rammed home just how quick a child can drown and I couldn’t help but think of poor Junta’s little 2 year old daughter who drowned in a provincial pond a few months ago.

After getting their composure back, I took the girls inside and plonked them down in front of some cartoons and got them huge plates of food. Both of them ate like horses and later in the night their spirits were back and they were playing boisterous games of hide and seek with all the adults and their new best friend, little 3 year old Davuth ( Dan’s daughter ).

So all’s well that ends well with Water Festival 2008 but next time it is floaties all around for the kids……

It all left little Grace exhausted…….

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6 Responses to Water Festival 2008

  1. Robert Carry says:

    I’m really enjoying this blog! I was in Cambodia earlier this year and pretty much fell in love with the place. I’m back in wintery Europe right now but these accounts (although this latest story was a bit scary) are a great reminder of the cracking time I had there.

  2. Hi Robert,
    Glad you are living vicariously through the blog ;-). Do what I did – pack it all in and move over here. You won’t regret a day.

  3. robert carry says:

    I’m actually in the process of doing exactly that 🙂 I’m hoping to be a permanent fixture out there by the middle of next year.

    I reckon it has to be done – I write a column called ‘Letter from Thailand’ for an Irish newspaper (which I publish online as a blog) and it has been entirely taken over by submissions about Cambodia. That’s despite the fact that I spent eight months in Thailand and only a week in Cambodia!

  4. Robert,
    I have checked out your blog and I have work for you when you get here training or motivating this now middle aged and fat phuck ( though once fit and able ! ) Stay in touch !

  5. robert carry says:

    The first thing I’m goin to do when I get there is sign up for a Pradal Srey fight. I find fear of getting my arse kicked to be a fabulous motivator 🙂

  6. mrklatham says:

    Hate that bon oom dtook,always will.Too many khmers in one place is always bad news.
    Bangkok was sane by comparison,their water festival is beautiful.
    Always liked loy kratong,people stay at home and celebrate.

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