Phnom Penh Prepares for Khmer New Year

Phnom Penh markets were busy this weekend with city residents crowding into trucks and taxi cabs, heading for home villages to visit relatives, perform Buddhist ceremonies and play traditional Khmer games.

At Phnom Penh’s riverfront park Saturday night, several hundred young people antici­pat­ing this week’s Khmer New Year holiday gathered to dance un­til past midnight.

People preparing to celebrate and observe the holiday have stormed the city’s markets in re­cent days, buying up enough food for offerings and meals to last the three-day holiday, which begins today.

As in past years, buyers again encountered higher prices for meat, vegetables and fruit.

“Everything is expensive…but I must go to the pagoda to put food there for my ancestors so that they will be reborn with good luck and will be rich in their new fam­ily,” Mek Chinda, 36, of Mean­chey district, said Sunday.

Phnom Penh fruit vendors said that they have had to raise prices because of price increases from wholesalers.

The price of Kampot durian has risen from 5,000 riel ($1.25) per kg in March to 8,000 riel ($2) per kilogram in Phnom Penh markets last week. And US-grown apples have gone from 5,550 riel (about $1.35) per kg last month to the current charge of 6,500 riel (about $1.60) per kg, vendors said. The price of grapes has also increased.

Families celebrating the new year usually buy large amounts of fruit in the days leading up to the holiday. Vendors in city markets plan for this by ordering larger amounts of fruit.

There is a wider variety and a larger volume of fruit available to customers this year than in previous years, vendors and custom­ers at Phsar O’Russei and at the rows of fruit stands near Olympic Stadium said Thursday.

Lim Oy, a fruit seller near the Stadium, said people are buying fruits and flowers to help them adhere to the traditional new year’s custom of remembering.

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