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Phnom Penh Water Festival 2016

As the rainy season came to an end and the flow of the Tonle Sap river slowly starts to reverse, Cambodians celebrate the “Bon Om Touk” – the annual water festival.

For three days, thousands of people flocked into the capital Phnom Penh to watch the 259 boats race against each others in front of King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Almost every town and village across Cambodia takes part in the festival, with the biggest and most important competitions held in the waters off the capital’s riverside.

The festival is a very popular Cambodian tradition that can be traced back centuries.

November 12, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). People watch the training session of a boat one day before the beginning of the annual water festival. The festival takes place in November along the river side of Phnom Penh and marks a reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 12, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). People watch the training session of a boat one day before the beginning of the annual water festival. The festival takes place in November along the river side of Phnom Penh and marks a reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). A boat crew moves aboard its racing boat, warming up for the first day of racing of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). A boat crew moves aboard its racing boat, warming up for the first day of racing of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). A coach encourages his team ahead of the first day of racing of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). A coach encourages his team ahead of the first day of racing of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). People hang out in front of the Royal Palace, waiting for the fireworks show. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). People hang out in front of the Royal Palace, waiting for the fireworks show. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Thousands of people watch the beginning of the competitions from the banks of the Tonle Sap. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Thousands of people watch the beginning of the competitions from the banks of the Tonle Sap. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Top officials watch the opening ceremony from the main VIP tent. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Top officials watch the opening ceremony from the main VIP tent. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Balloon sellers on the riverside. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Balloon sellers on the riverside. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni arrives at the opening ceremony of the festival, followed by Prime Minister Hun Sen. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni arrives at the opening ceremony of the festival, followed by Prime Minister Hun Sen. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Thousands of people flocked to the riverside to assist the festival causing traffic congestion around the river side's area. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Thousands of people flocked to the riverside to assist the festival causing traffic congestion around the river side’s area. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). People are gathered in front of the Royal Palace to enjoy a fireworks show for the closing ceremony of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). People are gathered in front of the Royal Palace to enjoy a fireworks show for the closing ceremony of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 14, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). A team of racers has a moment of rest between competitions. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 14, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). A team of racers has a moment of rest between competitions. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Thousands of people watch the beginning of the competitions from the riverside of Phnom Penh. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 13, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Thousands of people watch the beginning of the competitions from the riverside of Phnom Penh. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 14, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). People follow the races through the screens of their smartphones. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 14, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). People follow the races through the screens of their smartphones. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 14, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Racing teams rest beneath the Japanese and Chinese bridges. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 14, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Racing teams rest beneath the Japanese and Chinese bridges. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 14, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Onlookers watch the racing boats from beneath the Japanese and Chinese bridges. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 14, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Onlookers watch the racing boats from beneath the Japanese and Chinese bridges. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 14, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Members of a boat racing team walk towards the tent camp built by the authorities for the participants of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 14, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Members of a boat racing team walk towards the tent camp built by the authorities for the participants of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 14, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). A boat crew watches the races on a TV installed in one of the camp site used by the participants of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 14, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). A boat crew watches the races on a TV installed in one of the camp site used by the participants of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 14, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). A guy massages a friend inside the tent camp built by the authorities for the participants of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 14, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). A guy massages a friend inside the tent camp built by the authorities for the participants of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Balloon sellers on the riverside. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Balloon sellers on the riverside. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Members of a racing team celebrate with dances and beers the end of the competitions. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Members of a racing team celebrate with dances and beers the end of the competitions. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Thousands of people watch the beginning of the competitions from the banks of the Tonle Sap. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Thousands of people watch the beginning of the competitions from the banks of the Tonle Sap. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Members of the security watch the VIP's main tent, where King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and other top officials are watching the closing ceremony of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Members of the security watch the VIP’s main tent, where King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and other top officials are watching the closing ceremony of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Thousands of people watch the beginning of the competitions from the banks of the Tonle Sap. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Thousands of people watch the beginning of the competitions from the banks of the Tonle Sap. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). View of the VIP's main tent, where King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and other top officials are watching the closing ceremony of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). View of the VIP’s main tent, where King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and other top officials are watching the closing ceremony of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Thousands of people gather on the river banks to enjoy a firework show for the closing ceremony of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Thousands of people gather on the river banks to enjoy a firework show for the closing ceremony of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Actors wait to start their performance in the backstage of one of the stages installed in the biggest tent camp built for the participants of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 15, 2016 – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Actors wait to start their performance in the backstage of one of the stages installed in the biggest tent camp built for the participants of the festival. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom

Khmer Krom – The Nowhere People

First used as spies by the CIA during the Vietnam War and later targeted for elimination by Pol Pot’s genocidal regime, Khmer Krom are still victims of numerous human rights violations today. The ones living in Vietnam are being acculturated by Hanoi´s intimidating policies, while others have been forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands in the Mekong Delta and pushed to Cambodia where they are not recognized as full citizens. With no place on either side of the border, the Khmer Krom have become the “nowhere people.” 

This is their story.

I started this project in July 2012, when I spent a week as a tourist visiting some of the Khmer Krom communities and Pagodas in the Mekong Delta. At that point, my aim was just to discover and understand a bit better their ways of life, as well as to visit some of Vietnam’s most iconic sites.

As my first contact with the Khmer Krom communities, my encounter with the reality of their lives was only brief and did not leave me enough time to properly investigate the matter, especially how the restrictions applied by the Vietnamese Government affect the Khmer Krom’s life itineraries.

Therefore, I am planning to go back to the area with the support of several international organisations and NGOs..

It is, of course, an ongoing project.

[button align=”center” link=”http://www.fotovisura.com/user/thomascristofoletti/view/khmer-krom-the-nowhere-people” margin=”20″]See the full project proposal on FotoVisura.com[/button]

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Vietnam’s Tra Vinh Province in the heart of the Mekong Delta hosts one of the largest populations of ethnic Khmer in the country. The province has more the 140 Temples and Pagodas.
A Khmer Krom monk in Sam Bua Pagoda, just a few kilometers outside Tra Vinh.
Nuns and monks praying in the Hang Pagoda, just outside Tra Vinh (Vietnam).
Buddhist shrine with portrait of Ho Chi Minh in the Hang Pagoda (Tra Vinh). Khmer Krom monks are required to study Ho Chi Minh’s biography and teach Vietnamese history, with many pagodas maintaining shrines to Ho Chi Minh and displaying Communist Party posters on pagoda walls.
A monk studying in the Koskeoseray Pagoda (Tra Vinh – Vietnam). On the wall a picture of Avalokiteśvaras, who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. Portrayed in different cultures as either male or female, Avalokiteśvara is one of the more widely revered bodhisattvas in mainstream Mahayana Buddhism, as well as unofficially in Theravada Buddhism.
Young Khmer Krom monks smoking in Sam Bua Pagoda, just a few kilometers outside Tra Vinh.
Vien Minh Pagoda, Ben Tre (Vietnam). An interesting feature of pagoda is the large white statue of Quan The Am Bo Tat (Goddess of Mercy). The pagoda belongs to Mahayana Buddhism, the most important branch in Vietnam.
Interior of a Catholic Church in Can Tho (Vietnam).
Khmer Krom’s members preparing the Wat Mahatup Pagoda for a ceremony.
A monk smoking in the Trá Sat Pagoda nearby Tra Vinh (Vietnam).
Khmer Krom’s members preparing the Wat Mahatup Pagoda for a ceremony.
Khmer Krom’s members during a ceremony in the Wat Mahatup Pagoda, nearby Soc Trang (Vietnam).
Khmer Krom’s members during a ceremony in the Wat Mahatup Pagoda, nearby Soc Trang (Vietnam).
Board with khmer and vietnamese words in the Chanrangsey Pagoda in central Saigon (Vietnam).
The Chinese Ong Pagoda in Can Tho (Vietnam).
Members of the Cham’s community of Chau Doc (Vietnam), preparing food in the last day of the Ramadam.
The Cham’s mosk of Chau Doc (Vietnam).
A Cham’s cemetery in Chau Doc (Vietnam).

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