King’s 77th a Time to Relax

Individuals and entire families strolled Phnom Penh’s riverfront area Sunday, taking advantage of the long holiday marking the 77th birthday of King Norodom Sihanouk.

During a weekend featuring public ceremonies, fireworks displays and the grand opening of a public park in front of the Royal Palace, thousands descended on the capital, making Phnom Penh’s often crowded streets almost unnavigable.

Nowhere was the traffic more dense than along the perimeters of the Royal Palace, where dignitaries including Prime Minister Hun Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Prince Norodom Rana­riddh on Saturday formally congratulated the King, state-run TVK reported Sunday.

Among the visitors Sunday was 44-year-old Moeng Lay, who joined family members at the palace for what she called “a welcome change of pace.”

“Whenever I want to get refreshed, I visit the palace,” she said.

Reflecting on the King’s importance during the recovery from decades of civil war, Moeng Lay said: “The King is a great person for all Cambo­dians. He is reliable, and we trust his wisdom. We have tried hard to reconcile [differences in] Cam­bo­dia. I wish him longevity so that Cambodian people can feel secure.”

Others in the riverfront area said they planned to get away from the city to visit resort areas in the provinces.

Seng Hong, 40, said he was planning to take his wife and children on a trip to Sihanoukville. He said he was confident he and his family would have an enjoyable time at the beach.

Meanwhile, 31-year-old Hok Keang said he was using his three-day holiday for a trip to his hometown in Kampot province.

Still others, like street vendor So Pheaktra, spent the holiday working harder than unusual. But the 53-year-old woman said she insisted her son and daughter refrain from helping her out during the holiday, so that they could “enjoy themselves at home or eat out at a nice restaurant.”

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