Saturday, November 1, 2008

Online advice

Water Festival - coming soon to a river near me!
The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office website often gets poor press because they are ultra cautious in their warnings to expats and tourists visiting countries around the globe. But of course you can understand their position as they are obligated to provide advice which makes people aware of the potential dangers they may face and they will always err on the side of caution, and rightly so. It is up to the individual to either follow, interpret or ignore the travel advice that the FCO provide. By the way 85,000 British nationals visited Cambodia last year, 78,000 of them on holiday and most of those visits were trouble free. In their latest updated travel advice, the FCO mention the recent spat on the Cambodia-Thai border and an underlying threat of terrorism. This week they've also reminded us about two forthcoming celebrations. The Water Festival (Bonn Om Touk in Khmer) public holiday period over 10 -13 November, means the population of Phnom Penh will increase dramatically. Between 1-2 million additional Khmers are expected to flood into town from the provinces to take part in the festivities, which include boat races. Crowds will be especially large around the riverfront area which increases dramatically the risk of pick pocketing and bag snatching and a large increase in traffic on the roads of the city. FCO reminds visitors to be extra vigilant, not to carry large sums of money, expensive jewellery, etc. All sound advice. I'm planning on being out of town myself for the festival as the roads are simply crazy for the 3 days with all of the additional traffic and people on the streets. It's gridlock. My brother will be here for a couple of weeks so for at least a week, we're heading to the south coast to do a bit of exploring in that area.
The second celebration is the annual Independence Day parade on Sunday 9 November. It'll celebrate Cambodia's 54 anniversary of independence from those pesky French and the parade will last from 7am in front of the Royal Palace, up to the Independence Monument and then back to the riverfront. The authorities are expecting 100,000 people to take part in the celebrations, many more than usual. More gridlock. Oh and by the way Cambodia has a new British Ambassador, he's Andrew Mace and he's a mere youngster, in his mid-30s I believe. Makes me feel kinda old. Interestingly, 569 British nationals are registered as living in Cambodia, including me. To see the online FOC advice, click here.


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