Khmer Water Festival

The Water Festival in Cambodia takes place each year in October or November, at the time of the full moon, and is the most extravagant and exuberant festival in the Khmer calendar, outdoing even the new year celebrations. Starting on the day of the full moon in late October or early November, up to a million people from all walks of life and from all over the country flock to the banks of the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers in Phnom Penh to watch traditional boats racing on a huge scale. This year more than 400 of the brightly colored boats with over 2,500 paddlers battled it out for top honors. The boat racing dates back to ancient times marking the strength of the powerful Khmer marine forces during the Khmer empire.
During the day, the boats race in pairs along a kilometer-long course, and then in the evening brightly decorated floats cruise along the river prior to and during the nightly fireworks displays.
There is often a parallel festival at Angkor Wat and although it is smaller in scale it is just as impressive due to the backdrop of Angkor Wat.
The festival marks the changing of the flow of the Tonle Sap River and is also seen as thanksgiving to the Mekong River for providing the country with fertile land and abundant fish. It is at this time when the river flow reverts to its normal down-stream direction. In a remarkable phenomenon, the Tonle Sap River earlier reverses its course as the rainy season progresses, with the river flowing "upstream" to Tonle Sap Lake. Then as the rainy season tapers off, the river changes direction once again as the swollen Tonle Sap Lake begins to empty back into the Mekong River, leaving behind vast quantities of fish.

Bou Sra Waterfall
Bou Sra Waterfall is a waterfall in Mondulkiri Province in Cambodia. It is located in Pechr Chenda District 43 kilometres from the provincial town of Mondulkiri along a red soil road.

In its first stage the waterfall has 15m diameter and 15-20m height during the rainy season, and a 20m diameter and 18-25m height in dry season.

The second stage of waterfall lies 150 metres from the first stage. During the dry season it has a 23m diameter and a 15-20m height and during the rainy season has 20m diameter and 18-25m height. [1]

At the third stage, the waterfall is more powerful than at the second stage, but it cannot be reached by man due to geographical obstructions.
Kulen Waterfall
These mountains are located 30km northwards from Angkor Wat. There is a sacred hilltop site on top of the range and the area was declared a national park by the government of Cambodia.

Phnom Kulen is widely regarded as the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire and is located some 48km from Siem Reap. Of special religious meaning to Hindus and Buddhists, it was at Phnom Kulen that King Jayavarma II proclaimed independence from Java in 802 A.D.

The site is known for its carvings representing fertility and its waters which hold special significance to Hindus. Just 5cm under the water's surface over 1000 small carvings are etched into the sandstone riverbed. The waters are regarded as holy, given that Jayavarman II chose to bathe in the river, and had the river diverted so that the stone bed could be carved. Carvings include a stone representation of the Hindu god Vishnu laying on his serpent Ananta, with his wife Lakshmi at his feet. A lotus flower protrudes from his navel bearing the god Brahma. The river then ends with a waterfall and a pool.

The Khmer Rouge used the location as a final stronghold as their regime came to an end in 1979. Nearby is Preah Ang Thom, a 16th century Buddhist monastery notable for the giant reclining Buddha, the country's largest.
King Norodom Sihamoni

Norodom Sihamoni (Khmer: នរោត្តម សីហមុនី, born 14 May 1953) is the King of Cambodia. He is the eldest son of Norodom Sihanouk and Norodom Monineath Sihanouk. Previously Cambodia's ambassador to UNESCO, he was named by a nine-member throne council to become the next king after his father Norodom Sihanouk abdicated in 2004. Before ascending the throne, Sihamoni was best known for his work as a cultural ambassador in Europe and as a classical dance instructor.

Before he was crowned king, his royal title was: Sdech Krom Khun (ស្តេចក្រុមឃុន), equating him to the rank of 'great prince.' As king, his title is: Preah Karuna Preah Bat Sâmdech Preah Bâromneath Norodom Sihamoni Nai Preah Reacheanachakr Kampuchea (in romanized Khmer); roughly translating to: His Majesty, King Norodom Sihamoni of the Kingdom of Cambodia. His given name, Sihamoni, comprises two morphemes from his parent's given names, Sihanouk and Monineath.

Sihamoni was born in 1953. At the time of his birth and that of his younger brother, his mother, a Cambodian citizen of Italian and Khmer ancestry, had been one of King Norodom Sihanouk's constant companions since the day they met in 1951, when a young Monique Izzi won first prize in a beauty contest sponsored by UNESCO.[1] She soon become one of the most enduring and stable influences in Sihanouk's life, and is often referred to as a "tower of strength" by close members of the Cambodian Royal Family.[2] She was granted the title of Neak Moneang at the time of her marriage to King Norodom Sihanouk in 1952. (A step-granddaughter of the late Prince Norodom Duongchak of Cambodia, Queen Monineath is a daughter of Pomme Peang and her second husband, Jean-François Izzi, a French-Italian banker.) [3] The Royal Ark website entry about the genealogy of the Cambodian royal family states that Sihanouk and Monineath were married twice, once on 12 April 1952, when she was 15, and again ("more formally", according to the website) on 5 March 1955; she is described as Sihanouk's seventh wife.

King Norodom Sihamoni has 12 half-brothers and half-sisters by his father's various relationships; his only full sibling, a younger brother, HRH Samdech Norodom Narindrapong (born 1954) died in 2003.

He has spent most of his life outside Cambodia. As a child, Sihamoni was sent to Prague, Czechoslovakia, by his father in 1962, where he, while attending elementary school, high school and Academy of Music Arts, studied classical dance and music until 1975. He is fluent in French and Czech, as well as being a good speaker of English and Russian. During the 1970 coup d'état by Lon Nol, Sihamoni remained in Czechoslovakia. In 1975, he left Prague and began to study filmmaking in North Korea, and in 1977 returned to his native Cambodia. Immediately, the ruling Khmer Rouge government turned against the monarchy, and Sihamoni was put under house arrest by the Khmer Rouge with the rest of the royal family until the 1979 Vietnamese invasion. In 1981, he moved to France to teach ballet and was later president of the Khmer Dance Association. He lived in France for nearly 20 years, but even then he regularly visited Prague, where he spent his childhood and youth. He is the only ruling monarch who speaks Czech.

In 1993, the prince was appointed Cambodia's delegate to UNESCO, the UN cultural body based in Paris, where he became known for his hard work and his devotion to Cambodian culture. He previously refused an appointment as Cambodia's ambassador to France.

On October 14, 2004, he was selected by a special nine-member council, part of a selection process that was quickly put in place after the surprise abdication of King Norodom Sihanouk a week before. Sihamoni's selection was endorsed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly Speaker Prince Norodom Ranariddh (the new king's brother), both members of the throne council. He was inaugurated and formally annointed as King on Friday, October 29, 2004. King Sihamoni and his parents, King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath specifically requested that the ceremonies be kept low-key because they did not wish for the impoverished country to spend too much money on the event.

The original gold and diamond encrusted crown, a sacred symbol of Mount Meru, used in official coronation ceremonies in Cambodia for centuries dating back to the ancient Angkorian Empire, disappeared along with many other items of Royal Regalia during the Lon Nol regime in the early 1970s. As stated by Julio A. Jeldres, King Father Norodom Sihanouk's official biographer, "The King did not want a crown remade because of Cambodia's poverty."

Sihamoni remains a bachelor, and there have been persistent reports [7] that he is gay. Sihamoni has no children, but this does not pose a problem because the King in Cambodia is selected by the throne council even when such a successor exists.
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