PHNOM PENH , Nov. 11 KYODO
Cambodia's water festival, a three-day annual event featuring boat races on the Mekong River, kicked off Tuesday with an estimated 2 million people flocking from the countryside into the capital Phnom Penh. Chea Kean, deputy secretary general of the National and International Festival Committee that gave the estimate, said 424 boats with 26,000 boat racers from across the country are taking part in the races, held to recall Cambodia 's long history of repelling invaders using boats. Many boats participating in the race are named after top government officials, with Prime Minister Hun Sen's name being the dominant one every year. King Norodom Sihamoni presides over the races, which are attended by the foreign diplomatic corps and government leaders, including the prime minister. The 1,700-meter race course is located just in front of the Royal Palace on the Mekong River in the capital.
KyodoNovember 11, 2008