No, not the statue of the King in the featured image of this blog post. LOL!
Here’s the King of Cambodia:
I went to the boat race with the French volunteer and her family on the first day of Water Festival. Her family heard that the King would come at a certain time so we walked to the riverside to try our luck.
The boat race in Water Festival was like the dragon boat race in other places in Asia, like Singapore, Malaysia, Macau, Hong Kong…, but the one in Myanmar I saw is very similar to this one. The paddlers in both Myanmar and Cambodia stand on a long boat, whereas for the dragon boats, the paddlers sit on the boat. The boats here are much longer than the dragon boats and simpler as well. The front of a dragon boat is usually decorated with a dragon (that’s why it’s called a dragon boat). Also, these guys don’t use a drummer. They have one person standing at the front of the boat who occasionally hits the boat. One of the roles of the drummer in dragon boat races is to provide rhythm to the paddlers so that the paddlers will paddle in synchronization which also means the drummer is also a communicator. But here, I am not sure about the role of the guy standing at the front of the boat. The dragon boat race has a long history in China. It could be that when the Chinese emigrated to other countries long time ago, they brought this tradition with them. And then it evolved to this one. I guess. I don’t know. (I later got a message from a Cambodian youth that there is a history behind this boat race. It’s different from the Chinese one. Thanks for the information. I learnt something new.)
After taking a few pictures of the boat race, we continued to walk to the park of the Royal Palace. We were told the King would be there. We joined the crowd and waited. While we waited, some local people left and eventually, we were standing in front of the crowd. We actually had a very good view.
Finally, the crowd started to move slightly and people’s heads turned to my left.
A car was coming.
The King was inside.
The car turned to our side and the King was sitting on the right waving to the crowd. That’s the time when the video was recorded. (The French volunteer took this video).
After the King got off the car and talked to the other government officials, the police and soldiers left. They signaled to the crowd that we could also leave.
It was a memorable moment.
But it was a shame that the King didn’t talk to us. 😛 (note, I use the words ‘a shame’ not ‘ashamed’. People who are non-native English speakers tend to mix them up. When I say ‘a shame’, they thought I say ‘ashamed’ which is different. They like to use the word ‘a pity’ instead of ‘a shame’.)
He is the second King that I saw in person in my life so far. The first one was the King of Bhutan who spent some time talking to us, the tourists. I think he spent approximately 15 minutes talking to us. (I didn’t time it.) He shared with us some of his personal stories, like he studied in Connecticut and his sisters didn’t (and why he chose not to study with his sisters), and his vision, like what he wanted Bhutan to become. And I was the first person whom he talked to among other tourists there. I remember after the King of Bhutan talked to me, a Bhutanese girl looked at me and smiled. I don’t know if she worked for the King or she’s the relative of the King. Anyway, before I saw the King of Bhutan, I was given a short briefing about the etiquette. One of them was nobody was allowed to take any photos of the King. It was very serious.
For the King of Cambodia, we were not given any briefing by the police or the soldiers. I think it was because the occasion was different. He didn’t intend to talk to anyone in the crowd.
Speaking of these important people, I also attended the same wedding banquet that the prime minister of Singapore attended. I didn’t know he was there until the parents of the bride mentioned it. No wonder there were so many ‘waiters’ in the banquet hall. They were actually his bodyguards. I might have asked one of the bodyguards, ‘where is the bathroom?’ by mistake. LOL!
Other than the boat race, Phnom Penh city also had fireworks every night starting from the Independence Day. I watched it near the Royal Palace and at the rooftop of the place where I stayed. It was spectacular!