Interns and Volunteers at work!
We were just in time for the Water Festival in Siem Reap when all the interns and volunteers started at Globalteer in Cambodia. Water Festival, or Bon Om Touk, marks the end of the monsoon and rice season. The festival marks the start of the reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap river and the fishing season It is celebrated with rituals like boat races, ceremonies, lantern festival and firework displays.
Water Festival Day!
The energy was vibrant as we could see everyone getting ready and participating in the opening ceremony. While the boat racing teams were busy setting up their boats at the river, the local vendors stepped up their game. How? Colorful stalls and loud music, perfect tools to attract people. The creativity of the vendor stalls were the highlight of the festival according to me. The variety of food stalls, the handicrafts and fun games added to the madness! After exploring the stalls we headed for the bridge to get an uninterrupted view of the boat race.
You can easily enjoy the day by strolling around, shopping, experimenting with food or trying few rides at the amusement park set up just for the water festival. You could even take some time out to learn about Khmer Culture. But most importantly immerse in the joyous occasion with the locals.
The four-day festivities started with the boat race opening ceremony, to welcome the teams. The boat races begin on the second day and continue until the last day of the festival. You'll also see people light lanterns on the Full moon for good luck. People either create their own lanterns or buy them with the offerings at the river followed by beautiful fireworks. The funny part about the lantern festival was watching the kids trying to fish money from the floating lanterns in the river.
It was the first time for all the volunteers and interns at the water festival in Siem Reap! An experience to remember and a new festival that we enjoyed being a part of. The lights, the colors and the vibe around were overwhelmingly pleasant. Considering all of us are from different countries and nationalities, to see something so expansive was a clear reflection of how important the celebration was not just for the families but for the whole city.
However, every good thing comes with a price! In a country where the waste increases by 10% every year, the price was the amount of trash accumulated by the river. The majority of it being plastic.
I have to say the sight after the water festival was not pleasant and there was ample trash around; it needed everyone's attention. It was time to get some cleaning done. We saw a great response from a lot of people in the neighborhood who showed up for the clean-up. Mulberry Boutique hotel, SGIS school kids and many other restaurants and individuals from around showed their support. The clean-up went on for 4 days by several different initiatives in Siem Reap. Together we were successful in the water festival cleanup!
It was a good start to our internship and for volunteers to witness the community effort in Siem Reap while being a part of it. If you are in Siem Reap you can find out more about Globalteer's initiatives at the Globalhub Cafe. Stop by for a chat, a coffee, or even just to say Hello!