Odor Offends Festivalgoers

For many rural residents coming to the Water Festival in the big city, seeing the Royal Palace up close was one of the highlights of the trip. But smelling it up close wasn’t.

By 5:30 pm Saturday, the second day of the festival, the stench of urine was overwhelming along the north wall of the Palace. Two hours later, officials sprayed an odor repellent in the area, which didn’t help much.

Mann Chhoeun, chief of cabinet for the municipality, admitted that only five portable toilets were erected for the festival, and that signs should have been hung to point them out.

But he said authorities could not do much to stop festival goers because people are simply in the habit of urinating outside.

Min Khin, secretary-general of the festival committee, said that in addition to the temporary toilets, he had hoped visitors would ask nearby residents and small restaurants if they could use their facilities.

Policemen on the scene said they could not possibly stop everyone from urinating. “We stood here to provide security for thousands of people and [control] traffic,” one policeman said. “It is not our function to watch people [urinate].”

Ean Mao, of Battambang prov­ince, said he did not expect to smell urine near the Palace.

“I never came to Phnom Penh before,” he said. “When I was home, I dreamed about how nice the Royal Palace is. I thought sim­­ple citizens would not be al­lowed to walk near it. But I didn’t think there would be a bad smell.”

Some visitors said they did not recognize the wall bordered the Palace, so when they smelled urine, they did not see anything wrong with stopping there themselves. Others noted the smells escaping from the street sewage system in the vicinity.

But most Water Festival attendees enjoyed the boat races. Um Khem Khor, deputy administration chief, listed 384 boats as having completed the competition. Prize money was being distributed Monday and competitors were beginning their return trips to the provinces.


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