sihanoukville town – More than 5,000 people flocked to this oceanside town to celebrate this weekend, many sleeping in tents or blankets in the sand, officials said.
The town’s celebration featured traditional Khmer dancing, and a full orchestra, said Sihanoukville Governor Ith Petola.
As the last sun of the millennium set, homes and businesses in town filled up with groups of people eating, drinking, listening to music and dancing traditional Khmer dances.
The town was festooned with strings of lights and banners, and groups of young people loitered about in anticipation of midnight.
About 300 revelers made their way to Hawaii Beach for a party organized by several expatriate-operated local establishments.
The turn of midnight brought raucous cheers from the crowd, the sustained sound of foghorns from boats out at sea, and a new line at the bar. As the party matured, a woman “fire-dancer” flipped torches in the air and many partygoers shed their clothes for a splash in the ocean.
Later, a waiting fleet of motorbike drivers made their way onto the dance floor—a long stretch of palm-lined sand—to strut their moves. They mingled with dreadlocked backpackers, and at one point coalesced in a circle around a disoriented reveler from Phnom Penh who appeared to lead them in a hypnotic, paganesque jig.
Daybreak revealed about 100 people still at the party, scattered on the beach along with the night’s trash.
Some wayward souls were passed out in beach chairs, others wrapped in blankets in the cooling sand. A handful still danced to thumping rave music, while still others milled about, apparently dazed by the passing of the millennium.
It was much the same in spirit up and down the beaches. Families emerged from tents. Beach personnel began at sunrise to pick up stray champagne bottles, and other garbage in preparation for the New Year’s day crowd.