Wednesday, January 7, 2009

January 7 hang-over

A scene from the Olympic Stadium this morning, courtesy of CTN. The stadium was packed out with over 60,000 people, and I missed it!
Damn it. I had a ticket for the January 7 mass celebrations at the Olympic Stadium today but overslept and missed the start of the event at 7.30am this morning. I know all about the arguments for and against the celebration of this anniversary - it's 30 years since the Khmer Rouge regime was ended in Cambodia and the ruling CPP party are using the occasion to celebrate the work they have done in developing the country and achieving national reconciliation, whereas opposition voices say the demise of the Khmer Rouge only served to commence a decade of Vietnamese occupation - but I still wanted to experience it, but turning up late was not an option, so I watched it on television for a short while and then came to work. My alarm didn't work but it also didn't help that I was out late last night. I'm not a regular on the bar scene in Phnom Penh but my pal Eric was in town and as I missed his recent wedding party, the least I could do was join him and his wife last night. We kicked off at Meta House to have a look over the Tim Page photo exhibition - Eric is a professional photographer himself and has recently moved his business to Siem Reap - then we enjoyed a Chinese meal at a restaurant on Monivong before heading for the riverfront to commence our party-animal lifestyle with an expresso coffee at El Mundo (yes, we really know how to party) before installing ourselves at the bar of a nearby drinking outlet. I can't blame Eric for missing the Olympic gig this morning, but he was a contributing factor.
Imagine my surprise that the drinking outlet we visited last night would also give me such a nice welcome with this wall decoration in my honour!


Blogger Ron said...

I'm sure the drinks were well worth it :)

January 7, 2009 at 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Eric said...

I'm glad I have some proof about last night... ;-)
And don't tell me to delete my latest post..., ha

January 7, 2009 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Maybe not...I wasn't sure of the start time of the event at the Olympic Stadium this morning (as I only got the ticket late the previous evening) and a couple of calls to my contact in the Ministry went unheeded just around 7.30am, probably because he was sat in his seat in the already very sunny stadium. I thought it might start at 7 or 8am but couldn't wake up til 7.30am and so switched on the tv to see the whole thing kick-off with the arrival of Hun Sen, et al. As I had a ticket for the main stand and everyone was sat in their seat (except me) it wasn't a good idea to turn up late, so I watched the proceedings for half an hour before going into the office. The stadium seemed full, most of the masses (school children and CPP party faithfuls) were decked out in white and CPP-logoed tshirts, whilst the field was occupied by members of the armed forces. It was strange to see the football goalposts hadn't been removed for the occasion.
The national anthem was followed by some dancers and then the speeches began. That's when I headed for work. The speeches at these Cambodian events seem to take forever. I'm aware there were a number of events planned for the day but unless you can read Khmer (which I can't) then you'd have no idea where they were taking place. It was all over the tv channels today, including a concert tonight (presumably at the Olympic Stadium again, indoors this time) and I feel disappointed that I didn't get myself into gear earlier this morning...though sitting in that hot sun listening to Chea Sim's epilogue didn't look particularly enjoyable.

January 7, 2009 at 9:52 PM  

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